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New report reveals shocking prediction for the future of plastic trash: 'We will need to take much more stringent action'

About eight million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean each year.

OECD report shows plastic pollution

Photo Credit: iStock

Global plastic waste is expected to nearly triple by 2060, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

What's happening?

The OECD projects that based on population growth rates and economic development, plastic pollution worldwide will be nearly three times more extensive by 2060.

The report states that approximately half of all plastic waste will end up in landfills and less than 20% will be recycled.

"If we want a world that is free of plastic pollution, in line with the ambitions of the United Nations Environment Assembly, we will need to take much more stringent and globally coordinated action," said Mathias Cormann, the Secretary-General of the OECD. "This report proposes concrete policies that can be implemented along the lifecycle of plastics that could significantly curb — and even eliminate — plastic leakage into the environment."

Why is plastic waste concerning?

Unlike other materials, plastic never truly decomposes — it merely breaks down into microplastics, which pollute our water and often end up inside the bodies of both animals and humans, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

About 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean each year — equivalent to five garbage bags of trash for every foot of coastline on Earth. These plastics kill millions of animals annually, affecting 700 species. 

Additionally, plastic production and disposal creates air-polluting carbon that leads to the overheating of the planet.

What can we do about plastic waste?

The most impactful way to avoid plastic waste is to reduce your consumption of plastic products, particularly single-use plastics. By reducing your spending on plastic-based products, you can help decrease the dependence on a linear economy and instead pivot toward a more sustainable circular economy, in which products are continually reused instead of discarded. 

Ways we can reduce our plastic consumption include: 

  • Seeking out food products that don't come in plastic packaging
  • Avoiding fast fashion
  • Storing food in glassware instead of plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • Investing in reusable water bottles
  • Seeking out used goods instead of buying new ones that come in wasteful plastic packaging.

By decreasing demand for plastic production, we can help curb plastic waste and protect our planet.

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