How Long Everyday Plastic Items Last in the Ocean? Which Countries Polluting the Oceans the Most?

How Long Everyday Plastic Items Last in the Ocean?

Much has been said about Plastic and the pollution especially Marine Pollution being caused by it. Even a recent report states that by 2050 there will more plastic in the ocean than fish.



Marine Debris

Marine debris is classed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as “any man-made object discarded, disposed of or abandoned that enters the coastal or marine environment”.

Did you know know that it takes hundreds of years to break down plastic? Yes, it is the case. It takes the ocean 450 years to break down the plastic.

This is the estimate from the US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Woods Hole Sea Grant, which compiled data showing the length of time for man-made marine debris to biodegrade in the sea.

How much time does it take to Bio-Degrade in the Ocean?

Take a lot at the following chart which shows the estimated number of years different products take to break down.

Plastic bottles takes 500 Years to decompose - Forestrypedia
Image: Statista (Some plastic products take hundreds of years to break down).

The destruction caused by Marine Debris

  • Every year, around eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean – and it’s thought that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight).
  • Marine debris can kill marine life. Earlier this year, a pilot whale that died off the coast of southern Thailand was found to have swallowed 80 plastic bags.
  • When plastic does eventually break down into smaller particles called “microplastics”, these can be eaten by fish – and end up in food eaten by humans.
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Steps to resolve Marine Debris Problem

Globally mandatory initiatives towards a circular economy are necessary to establish common rules-cum-sanctions for effective management and recycling of plastic waste and promote and support the development and use of alternative biodegradable and compostable plastics.

Governments and organizations around the world are increasingly recognizing the ocean plastic problem and its impact on the marine environment.

Last year, nearly 200 countries signed a UN resolution to end plastic pollution in the sea.

The European Parliament backed a complete ban on certain single-use plastics, including cotton buds, straws and plastic cutlery, which it hopes to bring into effect by 2021.

Countries Polluting the Oceans the Most

List of Countries Polluting the Oceans the Most - Forestrypedia
Image: Statista (Some plastic products take hundreds of years to break down).

Effective Management and Recycling of Plastic Waste

A plastic recycling supply chain required a collection of plastic waste, including trays, tubs, pots, films, and wrappers.

  • Coca-Cola, the biggest producer of plastic bottles in the world, was committed to “collect and recycle the equivalent of” 100 per cent of its packaging by 2030
  • Other multinational companies like PepsiCo, Amcor, Unilever had pledged to convert to 100pc reusable recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.
  • Tetra Pak, the largest food packaging company, set the goal to recycle (mixed layer products) equivalent to minimum 90 billion packages.

The Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP)

The World Economic Forum launched a new partnership to stem the growth of plastic pollution by 2025.

Backed and funded by the UK and Canadian governments, as well as companies including The Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical and the PepsiCo Foundation, the Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) will work with coastal countries which are battling waste.

Starting with the government of Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest plastic polluters, the GPAP will help the archipelago deliver on its plan to reduce plastic pollution by 70% over the next seven years.

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