A key focus of next week’s United Nation’s Ocean Conference, which will bring together up to 10,000 people from countries around the world, will be the crisis of trash and plastic polluting our ocean. Volunteers from over 100 of those countries are critical contributors to the 2016 International Coastal Cleanup report being released on World Environment Day as a reminder that global action is alive and a vital part of the solutions we seek.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate that in 2016, more than a half a million people removed over 18 million pounds from almost 15,000 miles of coasts, beaches and waterways.
Yet the reality is that cleanups alone cannot stem the tide of an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste that flows into our ocean every year. That’s the equivalent of one garbage truck dumping a full load of plastic into the ocean every minute.
Large quantities of plastic have been found on even the remotest islands, washed up from the far corners of the globe. The vast quantities of plastic found on the surface of the ocean accounts for less than 3 percent of plastic entering the ocean every year, including what is found in the north Pacific Gyre (also called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Science tells us that there could be one pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish in the ocean by 2025.
That is a future that no one wants.