Plastic Pollution Facts & Figures:
- Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide. Only 9% of these have been recycled.
- About 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean on average every year.
- Ingestion of plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year.
- The average person eats about 70,000 microplastics annually.
- Worldwide, about 2 million bags are used and 1 million plastic bottles are bought every single minute.
These alarming figures have compelled many to implement drastic measures to address the plastic pollution crisis. As of 2019, thirty-two countries have banned the use of single-use plastics, prompting many more states and cities across the globe to rethink their plastic usage from plastic bags to straws. While for years, plastic bags, particularly lightweight grocery bags, have become the focus of concern, the United Nations reports that 127 countries had already been implementing some type of restriction since the first one of its kind in 2002.
Canada has announced that it will apply a science-based approach in determining which of the single-use plastics it will ban as soon as 2021. The federal government believes that a solution has to be nationwide to effectively combat the harmful effects of single-use plastics. It aims to hold plastic producers and those that make use of plastic packaging accountable for their handling of the materials.
Meanwhile, several cities and municipalities have either enacted plastic bans or are imposing levies on plastic use on their own – plastic bags are banned in Montreal, plastic straws were recently banned in Vancouver with plastic bags to follow, to name a few.
In the United States, California was the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. Since then, 7 other states have followed – Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Several other states have also passed legislation to phase out single-use plastics in the near future.
Asia and the Pacific
The first country to ban plastics was Bangladesh back in 2002 after officials discovered that these pollutants have blocked their drainage system during deadly floods. Other countries like Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka have followed suit.
In China, plastic bag waste has grown to enormous levels that it became known among citizens as “white pollution.” While they have enforced a ban on plastic bags in 2008, it still struggles to enforce this ban with the waste only dropping by 60-80%. Taiwan announced in 2018 that they were to enact a plastic ban that was one of the most extensive bans on single-use plastics that spanned utensils, straws, plastic bags, and cups. While the ban will be set in place by 2030, the entire experience of take-out dining and shopping for groceries and other items will be greatly altered in the years to come.
New Zealand announced their plastic bag ban back in August 2018 where store owners can face fines if they were not able to phase out the bags within six months. Their prime minister Jacinta Ardern stated that measures had to be taken now so that the problem would not be passed to future generations.
In March 2019, the European Union voted to ban single-use plastic cutleries, cotton swabs, straws, and stir sticks by 2021. Included in these are the single-use polystyrene cups and plastics made oxo-degradable as it has been proved that plastics are not biodegradable but rather just break down into smaller pieces and even further into microplastics. The EU requires its members to start new measures in reducing plastic use in food containers and lids in hot drinks and for the reduction of plastic water bottles to be composed of 25% recycled material by 2025. The United Kingdom has a similar commitment to plastic ban and has set a goal of 2042 to end its plastic waste.
Kenya has one of the strictest bans in the world enacted in 2017 where the selling, production, or usage of plastic bags can result in up to four years of jail or a hefty fine to be paid. Rwanda has a similar ban that the use of such bags can lead to jail or fines, which is strict enough to spark a plastic bag black market.
Companies followed as some fast food chains and airlines around the globe have started taking steps to reduce plastic pollution by stopping the use of plastic straws.
While governments around the world are taking measures to address this environmental problem, individuals can also reduce plastic waste on their own by opting for reusable alternatives to disposable bags, cutlery and food wraps. Using a water filter at home also greatly reduces plastic waste. The IVO Water Purifier’s filter cartridge, for example, can replace up to 3,000 500ml plastic water bottles! This eco-friendly solution is also highly efficient with its medical-grade filtration technology that’s able to filter microscopic impurities and microorganisms as little as 0.1 micron – that includes bacteria, microplastics and even sub-microplastics!
Learn more about IVO and get on with your own plastic waste reduction efforts!