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Plastic pollution

Plastic pollution has significant and wide-ranging consequences for people and the natural world.

The complexity, scale and urgency of the challenge means it's something we must tackle together — from individuals at home to governments and industries.

The problem with plastic

8bn

Since the 1950s, we've produced over eight billion tonnes of plastic. Most of it isn't recycled, and around 32% pollutes the natural environment.

8m

Every year, eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea — the equivalent of dumping a rubbish truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

x2

Our use of plastic is expected to double in the next 20 years. By 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean could weigh more than all the fish.

450

A plastic bottle can last for 450 years at sea, eventually breaking down into microscopic pieces that never truly go away.

Your views on plastic

In April 2018, we asked what you think about the issues around plastic waste and pollution, and the actions you'd be interested in taking to tackle these issues. Hundreds of you responded to our survey and these are the results.

    What we're doing

    Building knowledge

    By engaging the public, we'll be able to collect high quality environmental monitoring data and learn about plastic pollution at an unprecedented scale.

    Changing behaviours

    We'll help people move away from a 'make-use-dispose' plastic culture by integrating public outreach, learning and engagement within science initiatives.

    Partnering with business

    We'll develop science-based approaches to help achieve a new plastics economy by working with businesses, their supply chains and cross-sector groups.

    GET INSPIRED

    The ocean ambassador

    For Emily Penn, researching the damage plastic is doing to our oceans involves a 3,000-mile voyage. But making a difference doesn't have to be so challenging.

    Read more

    Contact us

    We want to build collaboration and conversation across sectors to shape our investment and develop pioneering interventions. If you're interested in working with us, we'd love to hear from you.

    Gitte Kragh

    Senior Research Manager

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    Ed Nemeshanyi

    Corporate Development Manager

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    Debbie Winton

    Project Manager

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    Steven Loiselle

    Senior Research Manager

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    Images: iStock/barbaraaaa, John Hunt, iStock/artisteer, iStock/vchal, eXXpedition

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    Creating Knowledge. Inspiring Action.

    Contact us

    Tel: +44 (0)1865 318838
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    Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is a registered charity in England and Wales, no. 1094467.
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