Oceans' plastic rubbish forecast to outweigh fish by 2050

At least 8 million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year. Photo / iStock
At least 8 million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year. Photo / iStock

Oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 unless the world takes radical action to stop rubbish leaking into the seas, a major new report has warned.

At least 8 million tonnes of plastic already ends up in the ocean every year - the equivalent of a rubbish truck of waste every minute, according to the report from the World Economic Forum.

The rate of plastic pollution is only expected to increase as more and more plastic is used globally, especially in emerging economies with weaker waste and recycling regimes.

By 2030, plastic is expected to be leaking into the ocean at a rate of two trucks per minute, and by 2050 that could hit four per minute. As a result, plastic will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050, the report warns.

Currently, the amount of plastic in the oceans is estimated at about 150 million tonnes - about a fifth of the weight of the fish.

"Without significant action, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean, by weight, by 2050.

"Even by 2025, the ratio of plastic to fish in the ocean is expected to be one to three, as plastic stocks in the ocean are forecast to grow to 250 million tonnes in 2025," the report says.


It says the estimates are conservative because they assume fish stocks remain stable over the period.

Studies suggest increasing volumes of plastic, which can take hundreds of years to degrade, harms the health of fish and marine ecosystems.

The World Economic Forum study, produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, estimates that plastics are causing billions of dollars of damage to marine ecosystems a year.

It calls for a radical increase in recycling and the use of reusable packaging, and says tackling the problem will require the joint efforts of consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, authorities that manage waste and policymakers.

Star speaks out on oil

Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo / AP
Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo / AP

Fresh off his Golden Globe win, Leonardo DiCaprio drew oohs, aahs and smiles as he was honoured for his work against the climate crisis at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Then he ripped into Big Oil.

The Hollywood star of The Revenant announced his foundation was donating another US$15 million ($23.4 million) to environmental projects, and pleaded with business leaders and other notables on hand to protect the environment.

He said: "We simply cannot allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil and gas industries to determine the future of humanity," to polite applause.

DiCaprio joined rapper and entrepreneur Will.i.am, Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and Chinese actress Yao Chen as laureates of the forum's culturally oriented "Crystal Awards".

- Daily Telegraph, AP

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