Plastic waste in the oceans will equal the amount of fish, by weight, by 2050

The Daily Telegraph reports, 18th May 2017: Plastic in the world’s oceans is a ‘growing ecological and human disaster’ which needs an urgent solution, the Prince of Wales said last night, as he launched a prize to find ways to tackle the crisis.

The Prince of Wales’ said plastic had ‘altered the course of human history’ as he joined forces with yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur to offer a multi-million cash sum for ideas which can keep it out of the ocean.

It follows a report by Dame Ellen’s foundation which calculated that by 2050 the world’s oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish, by weight.

 

Animals become entangled in waste or swallow plastics dumped in the sea
Credit: Plastic Oceans Foundation

 

Launching the prize in London, the Prince said: “Plastics since their development roughly a century ago have permanently altered the course of human history. Because plastics are so durable once they are in the environment that is where they stay, accumulating at an astonishing rate. This strikes me as a tragedy. As scientific consensus deepens on the impact of plastic waste on biodiversity, of the food chain, and dare I say it, on human health, it becomes ever more urgent that we find ways to deal with this escalating ecological and human disaster.

 

Photo: Plastic waste on Henderson Island.
Credit: Plastic Oceans Foundation

 

By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The Prince said that people must ‘look towards solutions that are miles from the ocean.’

The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize invites entrants to come up with new ways to avoid reducing plastic waste, and to make packaging more recyclable. Most plastic packaging items are used only once before being discarded, often ending up polluting the environment.

For example, Britons use 7.7 billion single-use plastic water bottles a year and fewer than half are recycled, meaning that 16 million bottles are binned every day in Britain.

Shocking images have emerged showing nearly 18 tonnes of plastic which has washed up on to Henderson Island in the South Pacific, even though it is largely untouched by humans. Nearly 38m pieces of plastic were estimated to be on Henderson by researchers from the University of Tasmania and the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the most ever found in one area.

Dame Ellen said: “After 40 years of effort, globally only 14 per cent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, with one third escaping collection and ending up in the environment. If we want to change this, we must fundamentally rethink the way we make and use plastics. We need better materials, clever product designs and circular business models. That’s why we are launching the New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, calling for innovators, designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to help create a plastics system that works.”

 

Source: The Daily Telegraph, 18th May 2017. For the full details, see
www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/02/11/seas-have-become-plastic-graveyard-can-technology-turn-tide

 


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