Plastic Disclosure Project

Ocean Plastic Pollution Costs $13 Billion a Year, and Your Face Scrub Is Part of the Problem

By David Kirby

- Published on June 30, 2014 by Take Part

Researchers for the first time have put a price tag on the environmental damage done by the millions of tons of plastic floating around the world’s oceans: $13 billion a year.

They added that consumers can do their part to alleviate the problem. One place to start: Avoid personal care products containing polymer microbeads.

Two reports released last week at the first United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi paint a troubling picture but also describe feasible—even profitable—uses of postconsumer plastic to help keep it out of the environment. The Plastic Disclosure Project and Trucost, an environmental data firm, produced the papers with support from the U.N. Environmental Program.

There are many ways to reduce plastic pollution, Woodring said, such as generating less waste in the supply chain. Many products from China, for example, are individually shrink-wrapped before shipping, then unwrapped before landing on shelves.

We also need more recycling. Many stores now have “bring-back” programs that let people recycle products containing plastics. Water bottles are particularly challenging, as they contain three types of plastics—bottle, cap, and label—that must be processed separately, increasing costs. Using a single plastic would reduce those costs. (Or better yet, drink from reusable bottles.)

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