The Ocean Plastics Environmental Crisis!

Ocean Plastics

One commercial on TV states that by the year 2050 there will actually be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

That’s alarming to say the very least.

We dutifully put any and all recyclable material in our recycling bins every week. While we could certainly do more to reduce the amount of plastic we consume in the first place we have lived with the belief that we were doing our part through recycling.

But everywhere we look on TV and on Social Media we hear about the catastrophic levels of plastic waste floating in our oceans and our waterways, and littering our landscape.

This is a monumental, global environmental crisis caused by a severely broken Supply Chain.

With the general societal focus on reduce-reuse-recycle how is it that we have so much unrecovered plastic waste? More importantly how is it that we have let this happen? And where is the focus on reversing the poor attitudes which is needed to fix this situation with ocean plastics?

The Problem

According to the “Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments. That’s like dumping one New York City garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day for an entire year!”

Many of us have heard of the enormous patch of floating garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean, along with other similar patches floating in the rest of the world’s oceans.

“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France,” according to This includes “1.8 trillion pieces of plastic” estimated to weight 80,000 tonnes.

If we truly had an effective reverse logistics system in place for the recovery, recycling and reuse of plastics we certainly would not have a problem of this size.

The plastics Supply Chain is certainly broken.

Where are these Plastics coming from?

Rivers are considered a major channel for the transportation of plastics into the ocean. In fact apparently only 10 rivers are the conduits through which 90% of plastic enters our oceans. 8 of these rivers are in Asia and 2 are in Africa.

Given that mankind has historically settled along waterways or near water it is disappointing, but not surprising, that the remnants of human habitation, and human generated pollution, will end up in the water.

In general the plastics waste management systems of the 192 coastal countries in the world are obviously inadequate.

One of the reasons that China is such a high contributor to plastic waste entering the ocean is because China imports as much as 45% of world’s plastic waste, with the intent of recycling it.

Its somewhat ironic isn’t it? Container ships travel across and around the Pacific Ocean to deliver plastics to China for recycling only for a lot of that plastic to end up back in the Pacific Ocean.

The bottom line is that the countries generating these plastics need to take control and ensure that there is a closed loop plastics recycling program in place for ALL of it.

How does it affect the environment?

There are absolutely horrific pictures of ocean creatures suffocated from plastic bags or other plastic items. If not suffocated many ocean dwellers will mistakenly ingest plastic which will cause further harm. Further these plastics don’t dissolve but break down into even more problematic microplastics.

And overall the prevalence of ocean plastics upsets the entire underwater ecosystem.

Human consumption of seafood has been shown to include the presence of invisible plastics. Toxic substances introduced into the ocean will find there way into our entire food supply chain.

This infographic from one ocean one world discusses the environmental impacts.

how does plastic affect the ocean

What can we do?

The familiar phrase “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle” is very appropriate here because plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade.

Reducing your use of plastics in the first place is the best way to prevent the problem. Any restaurant you go in these days no longer provides plastic straws. Retailers are charging for the use of plastic bags in an attempt to coerce customers to reuse there own bags. And deliberately buying products that have no or minimal plastic content sends that signal to manufacturers.

That being said we are inundated with plastics products. So recycling is key. But according to National Geographic only 9% of the world’s plastics are recycled. That’s nothing short of disgusting.

I am constantly amazed when I go to different restaurants, cities, or countries only to find that there is no recycling. Your plastic water bottle goes in the garbage along with everything else.

There are more and more stories of emboldened individuals who organize ocean and beach cleanups, or who are inventing new technologies to try and recover the plastics in these ocean garbage patches. Where possible it is great to get involved.


Ocean plastics pollution is a very real, visible crisis situation. As we stated at the beginning of this article if we don’t do anything else in 30 years there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish. I don’t know anyone who would find that remotely acceptable.

Do your part!

Reduce consumption, reuse everywhere possible, and recycle everything!

Save our oceans and save our planet!

Originally published on January 7, 2020.

One thought on “The Ocean Plastics Environmental Crisis!”

  1. In my opinion the whole recycling program is a scam. While we separate all our garbage do you really think the waste companies and the sanitation companies separate the garbage at the dump sites? It all goes into the same garbage dump. We had actually recycling and reuse when companies used glass bottles and they were tied to a deposit for return, to be cleaned and rewashed before reuse. The brown bags we used to get in supermarkets were reusable as we used to use them for garbage. Now, with plastic bags, which get thrown away so not being reused. This a hoax of massive perception and proportion.

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