As of 2015, over 6.9 million tons of plastic waste had been generated. Only 9% of that was recycled and 12% incinerated, leaving 79% to accumulate in landfills or the environment.
Plastic pollution is a monster that we, as a society, have created. The problem is now so severe that it requires all of us to do our bit to try and slow it down – and that process starts with the companies we buy from.
Over 65% of our range is now packaged in 100% recycled post-consumer plastic – waste that would otherwise be going to landfill. We aim to make this our whole range by 2019, a mission that puts us far ahead of our competitors.
In an effort to raise awareness of the severity of the issue, we’ve rounded up four of the worst plastic news stories in the last year – stories every bit as scary as the ones we tell around Halloween.
When filming for the BBC One documentary, Drowning in Plastic, the crew made one particularly ghoulish discovery. The stomachs of seabirds on the remote Australian Island of Lord Howe were so full of plastic, there was no room for food, causing many of the birds to starve to death.
While the chicks wait in nests, the parents head out to sea to dive for fish to bring back to feed their offspring. Their lack of pickiness has helped them to thrive, but in today’s world, they have no ability to tell the difference between plastic and food.
The parent birds unwittingly feed plastic to their chicks, so when the chicks emerge to make the same trip by themselves for the first time, they lack the nutrition to do so.
National Geographic estimates that by 2050, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic.
And the seabirds aren’t the only ones suffering. As of mid-2018, over 700 species of marine animals have been reported to have eaten or become entangled in plastic.
In June, a small male pilot whale was seen struggling to swim off the coast of southern Thailand. The whale was found to have swallowed 80 plastic bags, weighing 8kg in total, leaving it impossible for him to eat any food.
Environment officials had attempted to nurse the whale, who vomited 5 of the bags, but it was too late, and the damage had already been done.
Plastic pollution is a beast that’s growing by the second – and we’re the ones feeding it. Five trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans, and scientists have estimated it to outnumber fish by the year 2050.
It’s no surprise then that it’s choking our coastlines. Caroline Power, who lives on the Honduran island of Roatan, shared a series of images in 2017 which show a tide of plastic waste floating in the Caribbean island’s clear blue seas.
One picture taken from below the waterline even shows the sun being blocked out by the sheer amount of waste.
And on top of all of that, it’s a monster that is likely to outlive those that made it. Estimates for plastic’s lifespan range from 450 years to forever – leading scientists to label the era our Earth is now in as the ‘Plastic Age’.
Dr Dan Parsons, professor of sedimentology at Hull University, argues the volume of plastic waste we generate is now so great that fossilised bits of plastic will exist for millennia. Just as there is a record of dinosaurs, Dan says plastic will be ‘our legacy’.
More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then thrown away. When you factor in that nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute worldwide, that’s a scary stat.
It’s frightening stuff, right? So let’s stop feeding the monster and get out those reusable bags, re-fill our bottles and recycle as much as possible. And if you’re already doing all that, then that’s great!
If you’re looking for some more positive news, keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles to find out when we reach our target of packaging 100% of our range in recycled UK post-consumer waste!