A new study, led by researchers from the University of Plymouth, has estimated that the cost to the global economy of marine plastic pollution could be as high as US$2.6 trillion per year. The research calculated the cost to fisheries, heritage and health from the upwards of 8 million tonnes of plastics that enter the oceans each year, and estimated that the economic damage is between US$3,300 and US$33,000 per tonne.
Marine ecosystems are vital parts of the global economy, providing support for food, carbon storage, cultural practices and recreation.
“Any threat to the continued supply of these ecosystem services has the potential to significantly impact the wellbeing of humans across the globe, owing to the loss of food security, livelihoods, income and good health,” the researchers said.
The researchers said that producers and consumers of plastics need to understand the true cost of plastic pollution, and to consider it throughout the lifecycles of their products.
“Drawing on previous experiences of global pollutants, we propose that the calculation of the economic costs per tonne of marine plastic is fundamental in future global negotiations to change the way plastics are designed, produced, used, reused and reprocessed,” they said.
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