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Stemming the tide of plastics in our oceans

Plastic pollution is everywhere, from Atlantic beaches to Arctic sea ice to huge swirling vortexes of trash in the Pacific Ocean. And you can find it in every shape and size, from microscopic particles to whole refrigerators full of plastic parts. But plastic itself isn’t the enemy. It’s the way we handle it that needs to change.

The bad news

Ocean plastic has harmed hundreds of species in a variety of ways:
Entanglement old fishing nets, six-pack rings
Choking bottle caps, straws, plastic bags
Blocking digestive tracts
Habitat degradation microscopic particles on the sea floor interfere with how ecosystems function

 

8.8 MILLION TONS

The amount of plastic that enters the ocean every year. That’s the same as a garbage truck dumping a full load of trash into the ocean every minute.

THE BIG 5

More than 50% of the plastic waste entering the oceans currently comes from just five rapidly developing countries.
China
Indonesia
Philippines
Thailand
Vietnam

STEMMING THE TIDE

Just 20 countries are producing the vast majority of the plastic leaking into oceans. If those countries could halve the amount of mismanaged waste they generate through infrastructure improvements (such as increasing trash collection rates), the flow of plastic into the ocean would plummet by almost 40%.

GROWING PAINS

The biggest reason so much plastic winds up in oceans isn’t casual littering. It’s the mismanagement of trash—especially in developing countries, where markets are rapidly growing but waste management systems are inadequate or improperly managed.

POLLUTION SOLUTIONS

In 2012, the Ocean Conservancy founded the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, a coalition of business, science, and conservation leaders (including WWF) dedicated to finding solutions to ocean pollution. The Alliance recently helped develop a suite of management strategies to stem the tide of plastics entering the oceans.

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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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