Plastic is flooding the world’s oceans and by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish, the World Economic Forum warned on Tuesday.
Because of its low production cost, plastic has become one of the most popular materials in the world, with production increased 20-fold over the past 50 years. That number is expected to double again over the next 20 years.
While a lot of plastic is manufactured, only 14% of the material used in packaging is recycled. That’s compared to 58% of paper being recycled and 90% of iron and steel also being reused.
Experts estimate that nearly one-third of all plastic packaging escapes collection systems and ends up in nature, specifically in Oceans.
“After a short first-use cycle, 95% of plastic packaging material value, or $80 billion to $120 billion annually, is lost to the economy,” the WEF said in a report.
The report is based on interviews with over 180 experts and on analysis of over 200 reports.
They estimate that by 2050, the amount of plastics produced globally will increase three times to 1,124 million tons. By then, the “plastic economy” will take up 15% of the world’s global carbon budget, compared to just 1% today.
There is hope of curbing this issue before is worsens. The WEF says we need to “massively improve the economics and uptake of recycling.”
One suggestion is that countries around the world need to vastly improve their waste collection infrastructure.