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Plastics to outweigh fish in oceans by 2050, study warns

A new report says plastic rubbish will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050 unless drastic action is taken to recycle it. It noted that 95 percent of plastic packaging is thrown away after a single use.

According to a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, unless the world takes drastic action to recycle plastic, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans.

The study, which drew on multiple sources, proposes setting up a new system

to massively cut the leaking of plastics into nature, especially the oceans, and to find alternatives to crude oil and natural gas as the raw material of plastic production.

The report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which includes analysis by the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment says that at least eight million tons of plastics find their way into the ocean every year. That is the equivalent of one garbage truckful every minute.

"If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050," said the report, with packaging estimated to represent the largest share of the pollution.

The report also notes that an overwhelming 95 percent of plastic packaging worth $80-120 billion (73-110 billion euros) a year is lost to the economy after a single use.

Current available research estimates that there are more than 150 million tons of plastics in the ocean today.

Business as usual

"In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish," said the report.

The report noted that a sweeping change in the use of plastic packaging would require cooperation globally between consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers, businesses involved in collection, cities, policymakers and other organizations.

It proposed creating an independent coordinating body for the initiative.

av/jm (AFP, MacArthur Foundation)

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