©The Green Times

©The Green Times

Unfortunately, of the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. The rest has been dumped in our environment and could fill an area 70 metres deep and 57 square kilometres in size, which equals the size of Manhattan.

Disposable coffee cups, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and other packets account for much of the plastic produced, which get disposed after a brief, one-off indulgence. Too often the stuff does not get properly disposed and it ends in the streets, countryside or in the sea, while the latter being the worst places of them all. Exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light, plastic can fragment into microplastics where, dispersed by currents, the stuff becomes virtually irretrievable. Computer models suggest that the sea hold as many as trillion microplastic particles. Plastic simply accumulates in the environment, much as carbon dioxide does in the atmosphere. And, if we continue to be so careless about our plastic onsumption, based on current trends, by 2050 there could be more plastic in the world’s waters than fish, measured by weight.

Trucost, a research arm of Standard & Poor’s, a financial-information provider, has estimated that marine litter costs USD 13 billion a year, mainly through its adverse effect on fisheries, tourism and biodiversity. It puts the overall social and environmental cost of plastic pollution at USD 139 billion a year. Of that half arises from the climate effects of greenhouse-gas emissions linked to producing and transporting plastic. Another third comes from the impact of associated air, water and land pollution on health, crops and the environment, plus the cost of waste disposal.

Dealing with plastics could have two parts: cleaning up what is already in the oceans an estimated five trillion pieces of plastic and stopping more from getting in. However, the overwhelming priority must be prevention: cutting quickly the flow of those eight million tonnes every year. Although there is a role for removing plastics, from low-tech beach clean-ups to a high-tech proposal to extract the plastic floating in the sea, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the pollution is dispersed too widely across the oceans for a large proportion to be removed in this way.

Countries as varied as Bangladesh, France and Rwanda have duly banned plastic bags. Since last year anyone offering them in Kenya risks four years in prison or a fine of up to $40,000. In January China barred imports of plastic waste, while the European Union launched a “plastics strategy”, aiming, among other things, to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and raise the proportion that is recycled from 30% to 55% over the next seven years. A British levy on plastic shopping bags, introduced in 2015, helped cut use of them by 85%. On February 22nd Britain’s environment secretary, Michael Gove, mused about prohibiting plastic straws altogether. On the corporate side, Coca-Cola has promised to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the drinks containers it shifts each year, including 110 billion plastic bottles. Consumer-goods giants such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble vow to use more recycled plastics. McDonald’s plans to make all its packaging from recycled or renewable sources by 2025, up from half today, and wants every one of its restaurants to recycle straws, wrappers, cups and the like.Malcolm David Hudson, a marine ecologist at Southampton University, says: “I think it is becoming clear to scientists and, increasingly, to the public that we are getting close to various tipping points within natural systems, as a result of plastics in the oceans.”

Alongside a number of initiatives and organisation trying to eliminate and solve this problem sits Oceanic Global. Oceanic Global is a non-profit that taps into universal passions of art, music and emerging tech to educate individuals on issues impacting our oceans and provide them with solutions for driving positive change. The organisation founded by my dear friend Lea D’Auriol creates immersive experiences that: engage local communities, generate measurable impact, amplify the efforts of synergistic groups, and ignite global action towards the reduction of plastic. Oceanic Global is an incredibly driven and young organisation based between Ibiza and New York City. Alongside my efforts for A Chacun Son Everest, I am also running around Mont Blanc in the name of Oceanic Global and support this very important cause. I would highly appreciate your support by giving as much as you can. Please press on the button below to place your donation directly through Oceanic Global's platform::