The oceans face a massive and growing threat from something you encounter everyday: plastics. An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic leaks into the marine environment from land-based sources every year—this is roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the oceans every minute.

A garbage truck's-worth of plastic ends up
in the ocean every minute

 

As plastics continue to flood into our oceans, the list of marine species affected by plastic debris expands. Tens of thousands of individual marine organisms have been observed suffering from entanglement or ingestion of plastics permeating the marine environment—from zooplankton and fish, to sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds.

Plastics never go away. Instead, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which act as magnets for harmful pollutants. When eaten by fish, some of those chemical-laden microplastics can work their way up the food chain and into the fish we eat.

Plastics in our oceans threaten the viability of critical marine ecosystems, but marine plastic pollution is not just a problem for our oceans. The extent to which we, too, are being affected by the plastics that have become so ubiquitous in our environment—in our food, water and air—is a topic of extensive research.

Unfortunately, one of the most popular solutions to plastic pollution falls far short. A meager 9 percent of all plastic waste generated has been recycled. Recycling alone is not enough to solve the plastics crisis. To have an impact, we must reduce the amount of single-use plastic being produced at the source. Oceana’s plastics campaign will urge companies to adopt alternatives for single-use plastic packaging.