“What CFCs were to the ozone layer in the 1970s, plastic marine litter is now to the ocean.”
– Surfrider Foundation & UCLA Wells Environmental Law Clinic
Plastic is an amazing material for making things and packaging to keep food and drinks fresh. But unfortunately there’s a backside.
Over the past couple of years awareness of the issues with plastic pollution in our oceans have increased but most people still don’t know how bad it is. Actually, the plastic pollution in one of the biggest threads for our oceans.
Here are a few key facts.
Plastic in our oceans
- Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
- Plastic is listed as the number one threat to our marine ecosystem.
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
- Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
- An estimated 5-13 million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year from land-based sources.
- 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
- We currently recycle only five percent of the plastics we produce and 1 in 5 bottles (globally)
- Only 21% of EU’s plastic waste is recycled – How to increase it?
- Recycling doesn’t necessarily mean that the material is recycled, it could still end up being burned or in a landfill
- Plastic water bottles can take between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose
Recycling in Spain
- Spain recycles less than 30% of all plastic (source: Zerowaste Europe 2016)
- 2,151 kt of plastic wastes or scrap are generated in Spain annually: 34 % of them are recycled, 17 % are energetically valorised and 49 % are landfilled. (Source: Cicloplast 2016)
In conclusion, if you can avoid using plastic bottles then do it. Because even if you put it in the recycle bin most ends up in landfills and eventually in our ground water and oceans.
What can you do?
How can you help reduce plastic pollution?
Here are a few simple tips:
- Drink tap water at home and at work. If you’re concerned about the quality of the tap water or don’t like the taste then buy a filter (see our guide)
- Avoid plastic bottle drinks and use glasses or water fountains whenever possible.
- Carry a refillable bottle when you are on the go and refill it whenever the option arises
- Do the research. Don’t fall for advertising that tells you bottled water is purer or healthier than tap water.
- Recycle – work out which plastics your municipality recycles and sort them accordingly
Once you get into the habit of avoiding plastic where possible you will never regret it and as a bonus you will save money.