Some 8 million tons of plastic waste flow into the oceans every year. The billions of facemasks and gloves used during the coronavirus pandemic are making the problem worse. This pollution threatens estuaries, coral reefs, fish and millions of families that rely on the oceans.
Most of the plastics in the oceans come from waste thrown on the ground or washed into rivers. Fast population growth in many cities around the world is increasing plastic pollution.
Two billion people around the globe lack adequate waste collection systems to capture these plastics before they reach the water. Better wastewater treatment and storm water management in many developing countries would stop some of the 1.5 million tons of microplastics that end up in oceans every year.
Yet, oceans provide countless benefits to people and the planet, such as food, medicines, renewable energy and natural resources. The value of goods and services produced by marine and coastal resources is estimated at €2.5 trillion a year.
Keeping the oceans clean is crucial for sustainable development and the reduction of poverty. The oceans provide billions of people with an income and a healthy diet. Oceans are also important for the climate. They absorb about 30% of the planet’s carbon dioxide, buffering the impact of global warming.