Plastic waste

undesirable or unintended accumulation of plastic in the environment

Plastic waste describes plastic objects which have not been recycled or disposed of properly, or have been illegally dumped. Between one and eight million tons of plastic waste enters the Earth's oceans every year,[1] and the World Economic Forum predicts this will double by 2030 if no action is taken.[2] Thin plastic objects such as plastic bags and litter can be blown away by rainwater and wind into rivers and drains.[3] This can cause drainage problems on land and pollution at sea.[4] Birds and sea turtles can often mistake these plastic bags for jellyfish or other forms of food. Fish and marine mammals also eat thousands of tons of plastic waste each year.[5] Some countries banned plastic drinking straws in response to a video showing a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose.[6][7] Sea turtles are not the only animals effected. Plastic waste also poses a threat to other forms of marine life, such as seabirds, fish, and marine mammals, as they can become entangled in them, or ingest these pieces of plastic, resulting in suffocation or starvation.[8] Paper straws are a proposed alternative as they break down after a long time in seawater.[9]


  1. Jambeck, Jenna R.; Geyer, Roland; Wilcox, Chris; Siegler, Theodore R.; Perryman, Miriam; Andrady, Anthony; Narayan, Ramani; Law, Kara Lavender (2015). "Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean" (PDF). Science. 347 (6223): 768–71. Bibcode:2015Sci...347..768J. doi:10.1126/science.1260352. PMID 25678662. S2CID 206562155. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-01-22. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  2. "The New Plastics Economy" (PDF). World Economic Forum.
  3. "How does plastic end up in the ocean? | WWF". Retrieved 2024-01-29.
  4. "Which Countries Have Banned Plastic Bags?".
  5. "10 Facts About Single-use Plastic Bags". Retrieved 2024-01-29.
  6. "How Did Sea Turtle Get a Straw Up Its Nose?". Archived from the original on 2018-06-19. Retrieved 2019-01-20.
  7. "What the Woman Who Recorded the Heartbreaking Turtle Video Wants Companies to Know About Plastic Straws". Time (magazine).
  8. "Plastic Pollution Affects Sea Life Throughout the Ocean". 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2024-01-29.
  9. Ell, Kellie (9 July 2018). "Paper straws are better for the environment, but they will cost you". CNBC.

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