A NEW report has warned that the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean will increase by up to 10 times its current level by 2015, if no new waste management policies are introduced.
‘Marine debris: Scale and impact of trash in ocean ecosystems’, by the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis(NCEAS), is the first ever study to estimate the amount of plastic waste that can potentially enter the ocean, by studying populations living within 50km of a coast, worldwide.
In the past, researchers have only calculated the amount of plastic in the ocean based on the debris floating on the surface, not taking into account the plastic that had sunk.
The study found that in 2010, 275 million metric tons of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries, with 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons entering the ocean.
With increased population and increased consumption, waste will continue to grow; scientists warn that industrialised countries must take immediate action by reducing waste and restricting single-use plastics to turn the tide of waste. To encourage this, the study offers a framework for developing solutions to the problem, which can be implemented on a global scale.