Feeling hungry? Well, we’ve got you covered. We have the perfect recipe for you: plastic soup. Yumm! We hope you’re hungry for some plastic facts and figures. Because when we look at the ingredients for this plastic soup, we are not very hungry anymore. And we don’t think you will be.
This article will help you understand all the ingredients of the plastic soup and enlighten what factors, countries and companies are responsible for the plastic soup in our oceans.
First things first. What is meant with plastic soup? The term ‘plastic soup’ refers to all the plastic in the ocean. This includes both the plastic floating in the ocean, like straws and plastic bags, but also the microplastics in the water.
Another term that is often used is ‘marine plastic pollution’. Marine debris or plastic soup is mainly discarded human rubbish which floats on, or is suspended in the ocean.
What are the ingredients of the plastic soup?
The plastic soup is made up of various types of plastic materials, with the most common being single-use plastics such as water bottles, plastic bags, and straws. Other materials found in the plastic soup include fishing gear such as nets, lines, and traps, as well as microplastics that are too small to see with the naked eye.
Plastic does not perish. It only becomes smaller and smaller. Until they are tiny pieces of plastics (microplastics), and not visible with our human eyes anymore.
The invention of plastic made our lives more easy. In many cases plastics is the invention of the century. Providing opportunity to produce, innovate and consume comfortably on a large scale. But that is the problem: the large scale. Overuse and recycling issues lead to plastic everywhere in our nature.
The map below shows the composition of the plastic soup in different oceans and the type of plastic floating around in it.
Note that not all microplastics in the ocean are caused to fragmentation but can also arise due to plastics in cosmetics, wearing and washing synthetic clothes or car tires.
Only around 5% of the total plastic soup is floating around on the surface. The rest drifts deeper in the water or lies on the seabed. So cleaning the surface of the plastic soup is only a fraction of the problem. And if we continue heading this way, in 2050 there will be more plastic than fish swimming in our oceans.
Plastic is very recent problem. In the span of only one human life, plastic production has increased from 2 million tons in 1950, to 390 million tons in 2021. More than half of all produced plastics is produced after the year of 2000. It is expected that in 2050, this number quadruples. Leading to a staggering 1480 million tons yearly. So what do we use all this plastic for?
What do we use all that plastic for?
Most plastic is used for packaging (44%). Hence, this is therefore expected to achieve the greatest impact if we want to reduce our plastic usage. The construction- and car industry are the second and thirds biggest plastic users.
Plastic usage EU members 2021 (source).
Companies responsible for the plastic soup
While it is true that plastic pollution is a global problem, some companies are more responsible for the plastic soup than others. Companies that produce and distribute single-use plastics, such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle, are among the top contributors to plastic pollution.
Worldwide, Coca-Cola produces 167,000 plastic bottles every minute. If you would put them in a line, they would go to the moon and back 31 times.
Here, you can find a list with the top 10 companies contributing the most to the global plastic problem.
Reducing our plastic footprint
Reducing our plastic footprint is essential to addressing the plastic soup problem. Individuals can take steps to reduce their plastic use by using reusable bags or water bottles and be more aware of the waste they use and produce.
Companies can also do their part by reducing their use of single-use plastics and investing in more sustainable materials and packaging.
One way to do this, is with our water dispenser that offers filtered and flavored vitamin water – without the packaging. This solution cuts out all the single-use plastic and filters the water for harmful ingredients like microplastics.
Because why recycle if you can refill?