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How is plastic polluting the oceans?

Beach polluted with plastics on the Red Sea, EgyptThe survival of marine life is threatened by hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastic waste in the oceans. Most pieces are smaller than 5 mm (one fifth of an inch) and come from clothing or food and drinks packaging. Only 5% of the world's plastic is currently recycled. With throwaway plastic products on the increase, the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean—dumped at sea or via the rivers that flow into it—is predicted to rise steeply. How can this problem be solved?



Waste plastic bottles on "Trash Island", Maldives.

Plastic waste

Plastics are cheap to make and last for a very long time. Plastic is used for many throw-away or single-use items, such as drinks bottles, carrier bags, nappies, cutlery and cotton buds. It is estimated that a foam plastic cup will take 50 years to degrade, a disposable nappy 450 years.

Some scientists predict that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans.

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