From Tracy Gill – NOAA Federal
Plastic waste causes USD 13 bln damage to marine ecosystem: UN
Plastic waste causes an annual damage of USD 13 billion to the marine
ecosystem, two UN reports have said and underlined the need of recycling
and redesigning plastic products to bring multiple green economy benefits.
"Plastic contamination threatens marine life, tourism, fisheries and
businesses," the eleventh edition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
Year Book [http://www.unep.org/yearbook/
previously highlighted over the past decade and provides mitigation steps
for each, said.
"Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the
environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored," UNEP
Executive Director Achim Steiner said.
As per conservative yearly estimates, widespread plastic waste causes USD
13 billion financial damage to marine ecosystems, the UNEP-supported report
"Valuing Plastic" said.
Making a case for managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods
industry, the report added*, "Over 30 per cent of the natural capital costs
are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and
processing. Marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, with the USD
13 billion figure most likely a significant underestimate." *
*Calculating the negative financial impact of issues such as marine
environment or air pollution caused by incinerating plastic, the report
said that the overall natural capital cost in the consumer goods sector
each year is USD 75 billion.*
A large and unquantifiable amount of plastic waste enters the ocean from
littering, poorly managed landfills, tourist activities and fisheries.
Some of this material sinks to the ocean floor, while some floats and can
travel over great distances on ocean currents – polluting shorelines and
accumulating in massive mid-ocean gyres.
"These reports show that reducing, recycling and redesigning products that
use plastics can bring multiple green economy benefits: from reducing
economic damage to marine ecosystems and the tourism and fisheries
industries – vital for many developing countries – to bringing savings and
opportunities for innovation to companies while reducing reputational
risks," Steiner said.
The environmental damage due to plastic waste include mortality or illness
when ingested by sea creatures such as turtles, entanglement of animals
like dolphins and whales and damage to critical habitats such as coral