Over the holiday I took time to watch a couple of horror flicks. One of them had an ending which left me with a sheer sense of dread. Probably because I bought into the premise of the movie even though it most likely will never happen.
The thing is, I now have a very similar sense of dread from reading about something that is actually happening.
A recent report from The Guardian says that the global annual consumption of plastic bottles will reach half a trillion by the year 2021. In essence, that amount would far exceed the efforts to recycle.
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According to the website, more than 480 billion drinking plastic bottles were sold around the world in 2016. By 2021, that number will be more than 583 billion.
“Most plastic bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which is highly recyclable. But as their use soars across the globe, efforts to collect and recycle the bottles to keep them from polluting the oceans, are failing to keep up.
Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling, and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean.”
The visuals of plastic bottles in a landfill are pretty easy to find. To be able to see the impact they have on the oceans is more difficult, but not impossible.
Here is Dr. Erik van Sebille from the Climate Change Research Center & ARC Center of Excellence for Climate Systems Science, UNSW describing his abstract for an environmental research letter which was published in IOPscience a few years ago and remains relevant:
The title of the environmental research letter is, “Origin, dynamics and evolution of ocean garbage patches from observed surface drifters.”
Compared to horror movies, it could use a better title, but to me, this is scary stuff.