Collateral for Convenience: How Plastic Pollution is Killing Our Oceans

Mike Hosey
5 min readJul 9, 2020

The amount of plastic we are consuming is growing and, if projections are correct, will continue to rise over the coming decades. Between the early 1950s when plastic production first began and now, we’ve consumed more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic and the rate at which we consume seems to be accelerating. More on the global production of plastic and its impacts there can be find in an article posted last week.

We’ve produced an incredible amount of plastic around the world. (Source)

This article is to look at how our consumption and the pollution that has come from our plastic addiction has affected the natural environment. Every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists and the vast majority of that has ended up either in landfill or the natural environment.

Whilst landfills offer an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ solution, plastics buried underground still leach toxins that, without careful management, can leach into groundwater sources, and those on the surface can be picked up by birds picking through waste or blown away into the natural environment. If landfills are ever breached after being decommissioned, there are a whole host of problems that can occur.

Perhaps the biggest crises we face with regards to plastic pollution, though, is the impact it is having in our oceans and on marine life. That starts from streams, sewers and rivers as they feed into the oceans where ocean currents are forming huge patches of waste like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Plastic in Our Oceans

It’s estimated that there are already 150 million tonnes of plastic waste in marine environments and we’re adding to that by almost 8 million tonnes per year — the equivalent of one truckload of plastic every minute. As global plastic production and consumption increases all over the world, the likelihood of that increasing is fairly high, at least without major improvements in waste management in developing countries. If this is the case, then by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

The problem has become so widespread that plastic pollution has been recorded all over the world, including on some of the most remote islands and even at the deepest point on this planet. What this plastic pollution is…

Mike Hosey

| Founder of | Masters in Sustainable Development | Interested in all things sustainable |