In the final weeks of 2017, plastic pollution of our oceans has become a prominent media concern.
The figures are as disturbing as the images:
• In 2010, over 8 million tonnes of plastic found its way into the sea globally, the equivalent of a garbage van every minute.
• More than half of this currently comes from 5 countries – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
• The total could rise to 28 million tonnes by 2025.
• The United Nations has calculated that the world used 480 billion plastic bottles in 2016 and this will rise to 583 billion by 2021.
• By 2050 we may have the same weight of plastic in the sea as fish.
• By 2050, plastic will have been ingested by 99% of seabirds.
There is no question that industry has to act on this. In many ways, it already is – by reducing weight, by re-using bottles and by recycling as much as possible.
But far more needs to be done by governments and industry in concerted programmes, where failing to develop best practice is no longer acceptable.
I also believe there’s also new hope in new, renewable packaging materials.