Oceans to have more plastics than fish by 2050: WEF

Davos, Jan 21: Oceans will have more plastics than fish by 2050 if the ongoing practice of dumping plastics continues, says a report.

In the report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has said every year at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean, which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.


"If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050," it noted.

Citing studies, the WEF report said plastic packaging represents the major share of the leakage and the best available research estimates that there are over 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today.

"In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight)," it said.

The report has been prepared as part of Project MainStream -- a collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the WEF with support from McKinsey & Company.

According to the findings, the use of plastics has increased twenty-fold in the past half-century and is expected to double again in the next 20 years.

Most plastic packaging is used only once and 95 per cent of the value of plastic packaging material worth USD 80-120 billion annually is lost to the economy, it added.

The report has suggested steps to have an effective after-use pathways for plastics, drastically reducing leakage of plastics into natural systems, especially oceans, and finding alternatives to crude oil and natural gas as the raw material of plastic production.

WEF Head of Public-Private Partnership Dominic Waughray said the report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step towards showing how to transform the way plastics moves through the economy.

"After-use plastics could –- with circular economy thinking -– be turned into valuable feedstock. Our research confirms that applying those circular principles could spark a major wave of innovation with benefits for the entire supply chain,"

McKinsey Center for Business and Environment's Martin R Stuchtey said. Generally, a circular economy refers to an economy that aims to keep materials at their highest value at all times.


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