United Nations Environment Programme

Plastic Pollution

We will not recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis: we need a systemic transformation to achieve the transition to a circular economy

Every minute, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our ocean. 

Plastic pollution is a global problem. Approximately 7 billion of the 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic produced from 1950-2017 became plastic waste, ending up in landfills or dumped.

Plastic pollution can alter habitats and natural processes, reducing ecosystems’ ability to adapt to climate change, directly affecting millions of people’s livelihoods, food production capabilities and social well-being. 

UNEP’s body of work demonstrates that the problem of plastic pollution doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The environmental, social, economic and health risks of plastics need to be assessed alongside other environmental stressors, like climate change, ecosystem degradation and resource use.

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Plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent fraction of marine litter, accounting for at least 85 per cent of total marine waste. At…

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