How much plastic ends up in the plastic soup?
More than half the 9.2 billion tons of plastic that has been produced up to now – about 5 billion tons – has ended up as waste in landfill or has simply ended up in the environment.¹ Of this, between 5 and 13 million tons of plastic enter the oceans.²
In 2017, two groups of scientists, independently of each other, discovered that 90% of all the plastic in the ocean was brought there by 10 major rivers which included the Nile, the Yangtze and the Amazon.³ In 2021, that statistic was overturned by new research.4 This research showed that 80% of the plastic in the ocean was not emitted by just a small group of rivers, but by more than 1,000 rivers. And that most of the waste was not carried by the biggest rivers, but by the small rivers that flow through heavily populated areas. It appeared that it was not the Yangtze but the Pasig, that flows through Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, that brings the most plastic to sea.
Apart from all the plastic waste that comes from land, the fisheries are also a huge source of plastic pollution.