We are surrounded by plastic. From food packaging to tooth brushes and baby toys, a broad range of plastics are used for items we are using every day. Most of these plastics are made from petroleum or natural gas. If you fill a plastic bottle with crude oil until it is 25% full, that’s how much oil is used during the production process of that bottle. Lightweight as it may be, it is weighing heavy on the environment. And these are only examples of plastics that we can see. Microplastics are invisible to the naked eye and are accumulating in all oceans and can even be measured in the air at many locations across the globe.
Each year, an average person living in North America and Western Europe consumes around 100 kilograms of plastic, mostly in the form of packaging. In 2015, at least 322 million kilograms of post-consumer plastic packaging were collected in Canada for recycling. As a comparison: That’s the weight of around 1,000 airplanes.
Approximately 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year. That’s roughly the weight of a cruise ship.