How we manage to EAT 1 credit card size of plastic per week.
Plastic is everywhere! It doesn’t disappear but rather just gets smaller! It’s now in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
A recent study commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and conducted by the University of Newcastle, Australia, has shed light on a concerning issue: people may be ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, equivalent to the weight of a credit card. This analysis, prepared by Dalberg and based on data from over 50 studies, suggests that individuals consume approximately 2000 tiny pieces of plastic weekly, totaling around 21 grams per month and over 250 grams per year.
The findings of this global analysis mark an important step in understanding the impact of plastic pollution on human health. It serves as a wake-up call to governments worldwide, emphasizing the urgent need for action to address the plastic pollution crisis. Plastic not only pollutes our oceans and waterways, causing harm to marine life, but it has also become an unavoidable part of our daily lives, infiltrating our bodies through consumption.
Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General, stresses the necessity for global action to tackle this crisis. It is crucial to address the root cause of plastic pollution and prevent further contamination of ecosystems. Lambertini calls for urgent measures at the government, business, and consumer levels, emphasizing the need for a global treaty with targets to combat plastic pollution.
Richard Leck, Head of Oceans at WWF-Australia, highlights the need for immediate action by the Australian government, suggesting a focus on banning the ten worst single-use plastics, starting with plastic bags and microbeads. Leck emphasizes the urgency of the situation, as the study reveals that plastic pollution has become pervasive, with individuals ingesting 5 grams of plastic per week.
The study reveals significant regional variations in plastic ingestion patterns, with water being the primary source of plastic intake globally, both from bottled and tap water. The United States and India show twice as much plastic ingestion as European or Indonesian water. Shellfish, beer, and salt are among the consumables with the highest recorded levels of plastic.
The report underscores the universal nature of the plastic pollution problem and its direct impact on human health. Governments worldwide must take responsibility and play a key role in holding all stakeholders in the plastic system accountable, from manufacturers to consumers, to achieve the common goal of ending plastic pollution.
WWF is mobilizing the public to support a global petition for a legally binding treaty on marine plastic pollution, which has already garnered over 500,000 signatures. This treaty would establish national targets, transparent reporting mechanisms, and extend accountability to companies. It should also provide financial and technical support to low-income countries to enhance their waste management capacity.
Dr. Thava Palanisami, microplastics researcher at the University of Newcastle, highlights the significance of this study in accurately calculating ingestion rates for the first time. This data will help determine potential risks to human health and guide future research on the toxicological effects of microplastics.
While ingestion is just one aspect of the broader plastics crisis, it is crucial to address plastic pollution comprehensively. Plastic not only poses a threat to wildlife through ingestion but also through entanglement and habitat destruction. Moreover, plastic pollution has severe economic consequences, with an estimated annual impact of US$8 billion on the ocean economy, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).