150 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean – a problem for the economy as well?
Among the most relevant causes of the influx of plastic waste into the seas is a lack of structure in place for the collection of waste. Developing countries collect significantly less than 50%. As a result, the waste builds up on land and is flushed down the river into the sea by the tonne, especially via rivers in South East Asia (such as Yangtse, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Mekong etc.). This causes dramatic environmental issues.
Some eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Estimates put the total amount of plastic currently floating in the sea at 150mn tonnes. At the current rate, we may have more plastic parts than fish in the sea in 30 years’ time.
The plastic particles do not simply dissolve; rather, they can remain in the environment for up to 400 years. “A large part of the plastic does not end up in managed landfills, but anywhere. And on our planet, ‘anywhere’ usually means in the sea. As a result of light and decomposition, plastic is broken down and ends up in marine animals and thus, via detour, in our stomachs,” explains Gerold Permoser, Chief Investment Officer of Erste Asset Management.