The oceans remains one of the most expansive, unexplored places on planet earth, covering around 70% of the planets surface. Yet despite making up the majority of our planet, more than 80% of our oceans is unmapped, unobserved and unexplored - Not only have we not yet discovered the majority of the oceans, but we're already managing to destroy it.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Also known as 'UNEP') is urging everyone to try and eliminate the use of microplastics, as well as aiming to put an end to the excessive and wasteful use of single-use plastics, such as bottles, plastic bags and more - With up to 80% of all litter in the oceans being made up by plastic.
It's said that as much as 51 trillion microplastic particles litter the oceans - This is around 500 times more than the stars in our own galaxy. "But just how bad is the problem exactly?" you might ask yourself, well, we decided to take a look, and the statistics are shocking.
Check out our infographic below, and see the stats for yourself.
Since plastic was introduced to the world in the 1950's:
- 8 Million metric tonnes of plastic is thrown into the ocean's annually.
- 500 Billion single-use plastic bags are used yearly.
- If you joined together, they would circumnavigate the globe 4,200 times.
- 1 Million sea birds die due to plastic each year.
- There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch:
- In 1997, Captain Charles Moore discovered The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He's quoted as having said "Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic."
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest of five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world's oceans and measures 1.6 million square kilometres in size.
- Measuring 1.6 million square kilometres, makes it roughly three times the size of France (Pop. 65,233,271)
- There are an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch.
- This equates to roughly 250 pieces of plastic to each human living on earth.
- This is estimated to weigh approximately 80,000 tonnes.
- Time taken for marine debris to biodegrade:
- Paper bags takes around one month to biodegrade.
- Cigarettes and cigarette filters take between one and five years to biodegrade.
- Plastic bags take between ten and twenty years to biodegrade.
- Aluminium cans can take anywhere between eighty and two-hundred years to biodegrade.
- Plastic straws take up to two-hundred years to biodegrade.
- Plastic utensils are said to take around 450 years to biodegrade.
- Single-use plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to biodegrade.
- Plastic cups won't biodegrade for between four-hundred and fifty and one thousand years.
- Glass bottles are estimated to take anywhere up to one million years to break down naturally - An exact number is yet to be confirmed.