A credit card a week?
On average people could be ingesting around 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card. Our study suggests people could be consuming on average over 100,000 microplastics every year. That’s approximately 21 grams a month, just over 250 grams a year.
How is this happening?
Eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. They break down into tiny bits called microplastics, small enough to enter our food chain, along with other types of microplastics like those that are released when we wash our clothes.
A GLOBAL DEAL
From beaches in Indonesia to the Arctic, plastic is choking our planet. Most plastic becomes trash after a single use. It has contaminated the soil, rivers and oceans. It’s even entered our food chain. Many of us are doing our bit to reduce plastic pollution, but it’s time that governments and businesses took responsibility too. Call on governments to introduce a global legally-binding agreement to stop plastics polluting our oceans.
There have been multiple reports in the media on the microplastics we are ingesting – through our food (shellfish, honey and salt), our drinks (tap water, bottled water and beer), and even the air. We worked with the University of Newcastle, Australia, to calculate the approximate weight of the average amount of microplastics that these studies demonstrate we are ingesting. The full analysis is available here.
The truth is, we don’t know. We know that plastics are doing irreparable harm to wildlife, but scientists have only just started looking at what it’s doing to human health. Can we say, categorically, that this is causing impacts on our health? No. Does that mean we can rest easy? Absolutely not. After all, you wouldn’t choose to chow down on an actual credit card, right?
While saying ‘no’ to straws and bringing along a reusable bag are great first steps, which you absolutely must do, it’s governments and business who need to solve this. At WWF we want governments world over to sign a global legally-binding treaty to streamline how we use and dispose of plastics. Business can play an important role here too – for example, by changing their production and product design models to allow for re-use of plastic rather than immediate disposal.