Plastic Waste Factsheet

Worldwide, at least 8.8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans each year — the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute — and in 2016 the U.S. generated more plastic waste than any other country, exceeding that of all European Union member states combined. — U.S. Should Create National Strategy by End of 2022 to Reduce Its Increasing Contribution to Global Ocean Plastic Waste, Says New Report, News Release | December 1, 2021

Fishing gear: The risk of leakage varies between categories of fishing gear: an estimated 5.7% of all fishing nets, 8.6% of traps and pots, and 29% of all fishing lines used globally are abandoned, lost, or discarded.

The main sources of plastic debris found in the ocean are land-based, coming from urban and stormwater runoff, sewer overflows, littering, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, tyre abrasion, construction and illegal dumping. Ocean-based plastic pollution originates primarily from the fishing industry, nautical activities and aquaculture.

Once in the ocean, the cost of removing plastic (estimated at $124/Mt19 to $25,000/Mt20) is significantly higher than preventive mitigation approaches (estimated at a net benefit of $2,241/Mt to a net cost of $1,945/Mt).21 Furthermore, capabilities for large-scale removal currently do not exist. Since 1986, the Ocean Conservancy has removed ~0.16 Mt;22 and the Ocean Cleanup Project has removed 0.0001 Mt since August 2021.23 Therefore, governments cannot afford delay in action or weak, pacifying treaty texts that focus on national actions alone and negate the essence of binding global solutions and control measures, especially as these approaches have already proved inadequate to date. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) issues briefs: November 2021