Key Recycling Stats
Why should we recycle and play our part in sustainability?
It’s important to raise awareness around the importance of sustainability, and recycling is one of the key players in this.
Plastic pollution is a worldwide problem. From the bottles we drink to the clothes we wear, the use of virgin polyester and plastic has been increasing consistently for the past 65 years. The rates of recycling do not match this substantial growth.
We are acting on our responsibility as a sportswear brand, and aim to be producing all polyester-based sportswear with recycled fabric by 2025. Furthermore, with brand-new developments such paper-based packaging, we are cutting down hundreds of tonnes of plastic one-use waste. Across the whole business, we are making significant changes and heavily investing in our processes and products to reduce the use of virgin plastic in every instance possible.
Below we’ve detailed a whole host of stats which might help you to remember, share and educate those you know – and hopefully – encourage you to play your part in helping us work towards a more sustainable future.
The impact of plastic on seabirds and sea-life
- With so many animals mistaking plastic items and particles for food, or becoming entangled, the impact of plastic waste on marine life has become a global crisis.
- Marine plastic pollution has affected 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabirds of those examined.
- 700 species of marine animals are in danger of extinction due to plastic.
- 100% of baby sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.
- Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with 3 of the 7 existing species being critically endangered.
- The population of tuna has declined by 74% since 1970
- 1 in 4 shark species are threatened with extinction.
- 1 in 3 marine animals have been found tangled in plastic.
- Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
- 705,000 tonnes of discarded fishing nets drown mammals including seals – this is known as ‘ghost fishing’.
- More than two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
- If coral encounters plastic, the likelihood of it becoming diseased increases from 4% to 89% – a disastrous effect as coral is home to more than 25% of marine life.
- Animals consuming plastic can starve to death as the plastic fills their stomachs, preventing them from eating proper food, rupturing their organs or blocking food from traveling to the intestine.
- In one case in the Philippines, a curvier beaker whale was found vomiting blood with over 88 pounds of plastic in its belly. Its body started to destroy itself from the inside due to the plastic waste.
- Plastic pollution facts show it is ridding the world of marine species, with over 700 on the edge of extinction, including Hawaiian monk seals and loggerhead sea turtles. Along with larger mammals, even the tiniest organisms can be impacted by toxic micro-plastics which in turn make their way up the food chain.
- By 2050, plastic will outweigh fish entirely.
- While the true figure may not be known, it is estimated that over 100,000 marine mammals and over 1 million seabirds are killed by ocean plastic every year.
Plastic in the oceans
- Every day, around 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into our oceans.
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is approximately 1.6 million square kilometres – that’s bigger than the size of France.
- 88% of the sea’s surface is polluted by plastic waste.
- 3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches, but only 1% of straws end up as waste in the ocean.
- 25 trillion macro and 51 trillion micro-plastics litter our oceans. Of that, 269,000 tonnes float on the surface.
- 4 billion plastic microfibres per square kilometre clutter the sea.
- One garbage truck of plastic is discarded into our oceans every minute.
- Only 1% of marine litter floats, everything else sinks to the sea floor.
- Plastic has been found as far as 11km deep, contaminating the most remote places on Earth.
- Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
- 20% of all plastic waste in the sea comes from marine sources such as nets, ropes, and lines.
- 60% of the materials that form clothing are forms of plastic (nylon, acrylic, polyester, etc). Your typical clothes wash will produce around 700,000 micro-plastic fibres.
- 138 billion plastic stirrers are tossed out in America annually, while the country discards 2 billion razors and 1 billion plastic toothbrushes a year.
- There are numerous reasons for ocean pollution, including toxic chemicals, nuclear waste and oil spillages, but plastic waste is high on that list. Out of the 381 million tonnes of plastic waste a year, only 9% of single-use plastics are recycled, with the remainder ending up in landfill and the sea.
- Plastics come from both land and marine sources with marine contributing to 20% of plastic waste in the ocean; this comes from fishing fleets leaving ropes, lines and nets behind, which entangles and traps marine life.
- Land contributes to around 80% of plastic waste, with one of the biggest contributors being single-use plastics such as bags and packaging. Sewer overflows, beach visitors leaving rubbish, insufficient waste management, construction, and illegal dumping, all contribute to the vast sum of plastics entering our oceans.
- Yearly, up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans. It escapes from landfill sites, floats down our drains, ends up in rivers and makes its way into our oceans.
- A lot of plastic waste is invisible to the naked eye, it collects in ocean gyres, where marine life feeds.
- It’s not only the single-use plastic, such as plastic bottles and straws you use, but the microbeads in your cosmetics, the fibres in your clothing and in your teabags.
- At the rate we’re still using plastic, the problem is set to increase tenfold.
- The impact this has on the ecosystem, marine life and humans are potentially irreversible.
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
- The patch, which floats between Hawaii and California, is 617,763 square miles (or 1.6 million square kilometres).
- It’s bigger than the state of Texas and around three times the size of France!
- It contains 8 trillion bits of plastic, weighing more than 80,000 tonnes.
- 46% of the rubbish in the garbage patch is made up of fishing nets.
- This trash vortex is a collection of two distinct patches connected by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.
- There are 5 major ocean gyres which accumulate millions of pieces of plastic; our wildlife feed in these grounds.
- The Pacific Trash Vortex, ranges from the West Coast of North America to Japan. Two patches are connected to create one large vortex comprised of 1.8 trillion bits of plastic.
- The patch is comprised of 705,000 tonnes of marine-based activities such as fishing nets and around 56% comes from land-based activities – the main culprits here being Asia and North America.
- Along with large items of plastic being ingested and entangling wildlife, the plastic debris in the patch blocks plankton and algae from receiving any sunlight. Plankton and algae produce nutrients for other creatures from carbon and sunlight. If their existence is threatened, the entire food web may change.
- Sea turtles by-caught in fisheries operating within and around the patch can have up to 74% (by dry weight) of their diets composed of ocean plastics.
Plastic production & recycling
- The world produces 381 million tonnes in plastic waste yearly – and this is set to double by 2034.
- 50% of this is single-use plastic and only 9% has ever been recycled.
- Britain contributes an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of plastic annually to the oceans. The US contributes 38 million tonnes of plastic every year.
- Plastic packaging is the biggest culprit, resulting in 80 million tonnes of waste yearly from the US alone.
- Plastic micro-beads are estimated to be one million times more toxic than the seawater around it. Products containing micro-beads can release 100,000 tiny beads with just one squeeze.
- 79% of plastic waste is sent to landfills or the ocean, while only 9% is recycled, and 12% gets incinerated.
- More than 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute.
- Plastic bags contribute to the 100,000 marine animal deaths each year by entangling wildlife and being mistaken for food by larger animals such as whales and turtles.
- Up to one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year – that’s 160,000 a second.
- If you linked them end to end, they would circle the globe 4,200 times. Around 10% of those will end up in our oceans.
- Less than 1 in 7 plastic bags are recycled.
- The USA is responsible for around 327 billion bags that end up in the seas.
- It can take anything between 20-1000 years for a plastic bag to break up.
- Plastic bags are one of the most controversial forms of plastic pollution today. We use them for only 12-15 minutes on average and bin over 1 million of them every minute.
- Each plastic bag can kill numerous animals as it makes its way around our oceans for years and years to come.
- 50 million straws are used in the US per day.
- Scientists estimate 7.5 million straws pollute US coastlines and between 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws on coastlines around the world.
- Plastic straws only make up about 1% of the plastic waste in the sea.
- During Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, these single-use plastic statistics show plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found and they have been a huge topic for debate in recent years. The heart-breaking video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose went viral and helped launch the anti-plastic-straw movement.
- Huge corporates such as McDonald’s banned plastic straws in its UK and Ireland restaurants, whilst American Airlines have banned straws on their flights and airport lounges. While this is great news in helping to reduce the billions of plastic straws we use every year, plastic straws only make up around 1% of plastic ocean waste.
- 500 billion plastic bottles are used every year – meaning there are 66 times as many bottles as there are humans on the planet.
- Americans use an estimated 50 billion plastic water bottles a year.
- A plastic bottle can last for 450 years in the marine environment.
- More than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from around 300 billion a decade ago.
- 14% of all litter is from drinks containers.
- Less than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were recycled. Just 7% of the ones collected were used to create new bottles.
- The full number of plastic bottles in the sea may never be known, but out of the 500 billion we’re using a year, at least less than half of those were recycled, leaving the rest to fill our waters and landfill sites.
- Many plastic bottles used around the world are for drinking water, with China being the most responsible for the surge in demand over recent years. Along with this, major drinks companies such as Coca Cola produce the highest numbers of plastic bottles; analysis from Greenpeace estimates they produce over 100 billion plastic bottles a year.
- The sheer volume of plastic bottles we’re using, combined with poor waste management and recycling, only adds to the ocean pollution problem. Bottles can last for 450 years, they will be ingested by marine life and as these plastics break down they will create thousands of floating micro-plastics, which are life-threatening to fish and mammals.
Plastic & the environment?
- We have produced over 320 million tonnes of plastic – this is set to double by 2034.
- Excessive marine pollution has helped create 500 dead zones (the size of the United Kingdom’s surface (245,000 km²)) in the ocean – this number will double every decade.
- These dead zones are due to toxin pollution and in these areas, the oxygen is depleting, killing aquatic plants. This, in turn, causes marine life to migrate to new parts of the ocean, which disrupts the entire ecosystem.
- 70% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by marine plants. 30% of our CO2 emissions are absorbed by the oceans. Combining this with the chemicals released from producing plastic means we are vastly influencing the toxicity of our air and ecosystem, which inevitably leads to health issues of wildlife and humans.
- The impact of this plastic waste on the environment is set to become irreparable if we continue at the current rate.
Impact on humans
- 1 in 3 fish for human consumption contains plastic.
- It’s estimated seafood lovers eat 11,000 pieces of toxic plastic every year.
- Micro-plastic can be found in tap water, beer and salt.
- Numerous chemicals used to produce plastic are known to be carcinogenic (having the potential to cause cancer) and to interfere with the body’s hormone system causing reproductive, neurological, and immune disorders in both humans and wildlife.
- 95% of US adults have levels of BPA in their urine (BPA is a synthetic organic compound used in the manufacture of epoxy resins and other polymers (bisphenol A)).
- At the rate our seafood is ingesting plastic, it’s highly likely we, at some stage, have consumed micro-plastics from the fish we eat.
- Although the full extent of the impact is not yet known, what we do know is that these micro-plastics are full of toxic chemicals, which are bad for our health.
- On UK beaches, there are 5000 pieces of plastic and 150 plastic bottles for each mile.
- Approximately 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK.
- In the UK, we use around 8 billion cotton buds, which were in the top 10 items found during the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean.
- Over 2 million tonnes of plastic packaging are used in the UK each year.
- Britain contributes an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of plastic annually.
- At least 4.4 billion straws are thrown away every year in the UK.
- Recent estimates suggest there are 150 plastic bottles every mile of the UK coastline.