Plastic Pollution and Its Impact on Marine Life

“There is nearly four hundred million tons of plastic in our oceans but only two hundred and forty-six thousand ton of plastic is on the surface”. In this essay I want to uncover the effects plastic is having on our oceans and what is being done to try prevent this atrocity of getting worse.

The problem with society is that most of us only care about ourselves and not about the environment or other life forms that live on earth. “Since 1950s around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide. Only 9% of it has been recycled. So what happens to the other 91%? Well a large majority of it ends up in landfills and in the ocean then the rest is burnt. This is a major problem as the plastic being dumped into landfills is causing pollution and is damaging the earth’s soil; the plastic in the ocean to me is the most deadly as its killing the sea life, they are ingesting these plastics for example in 2018 a dead sperm was found washed ashore in eastern Indonesia in its stomach there was 13 pounds of plastic varying from cups, bags, string even flip flops. This is horrific to imagine that poor marine life is ingesting plastic which can produce toxic chemicals all because people don’t see the big picture and don’t recycle.

One of the solutions to this is to educate student in school starting at a young age some schools already do this by having a eco committee which trying to help the school become more green. In schools we need to highlight to student how important that recycling can be and what is and isn’t recyclable, an article by The Guardian shows that “by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than there is sea life”. That’s more than just a small issue.

More than 1.1 million seabirds and animals are dying due to plastic every year. According to the United Nations millions of birds and roughly one hundred thousand marine life are being killed due to the ingesting and being entangle in plastics such as bags, plastic collars from soda cans and so many more. If we don’t start to crack down on this abomination it isn’t just sea life that is going to be affected it is affecting humans as well because as sea life ingests these plastics so do we as plastic is being found in the fish that we are eating as micro-plastics are imbedding themselves into the fish skin as they grow it is hard to find what fish have plastic in them as they are microscopic but just as deadly.

In Kenya they introduced the hardest laws on plastic bags in 2017, by introducing a law where anyone caught producing or distributing plastic bags will face a fine of up to £31,000 or up to four year being incarcerated in prison, I feel this is highly effective as it makes people think about is it really worth it? To be sent to jail or be made to pay a massive fine it doesn’t just stop people using plastic it also saves lives. In October 5th 2015 Britain introduced the 5p bag charge which made it so that any business franchise has to charge a minimum of 5p for a plastic bag to try stop people from throwing away their bags and adding to the problem and to reuse their bags or buy “bags for life” which is a lot more durable and should last you for life as indicated from the name. ”bags for life” are still made of plastic so they aren’t the solution but it is one step closer.

In the United States they produce ten million tons of plastic waste per year. This plastic doesn’t just disappear, a plastic cup can take roughly fifty to eighty years to deteriorate whilst a plastic like jug can take one million years to deteriorate, the plastic that we through away out lives us by a long shot but who does it affect? That’s right the marine life. Fish and other marine species have to live with these plastics around them this affects their habitats and their environment as it prevents them from living in certain areas and from swimming in the oceans due to the chance of harm due to plastic or worse death. The plastic that does decompose doesn’t always disappear some of it turns into micro-plastics. In 2014, it was estimated that there was around fifteen to fifty-one trillion individual pieces of micro-plastics in the world’s oceans. In 2018, a non-profit organisation in Washington D.C. had done tests on 250 bottle of water from eleven of the ton brands in the U.S. and found high traces of micro-plastics. The University of New York uncovered an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter in bottled water. This is a major issue as its affecting humans as well as marine life now.

In September 2018, MEPs approved a strategy that will try to increase the recycling rate of plastic waste. Also they are trying to get the European Union to “introduce an EU wide ban on intentionally added micro-plastics”. In October 2018, parliament backed this strategy. Another way to reduce micro-plastics is to avoid using products with contain microbeads, these can be found in products such as shower gel, face scrubs, exfoliating body scrubs and even in some toothpastes. Microbeads are small and would seem harmless to the average person until you realise that one hundred thousand microbeads can be washed away in your sink by just the use of a single product. So by stop using products which contain these you are helping to save innocent marine life from potential harm.

Another solution is that there are some companies such as Biffa who are buying plastic from people to try stop people from just throwing away there plastic, there is also an application that you can download on your phone where you put up pictures of your plastic, the amount you have and what types of plastic it is and people can buy it from you for reuse. This is a effective way recycling your plastic that you are done with so other people might have a use for it.

In conclusion plastic in the ocean isn’t getting any better, if we as a civilisation don’t start to recycle and cut down on the amount of plastic that we use then more and more marine life are going to die every year and there are some countries that are trying to crack down on the plastic pollution problem but not enough more countries need to enforce more laws on plastic. Through my research on this topic I have found some horrendous videos and images of animals from birds and whales with stomachs full of plastic to turtles with plastic collars round their neck preventing them from breathing if this was happening to humans there would be a lot more people trying to stop it but because its marine life not as many people care.


  1.'>Lytle, Claire L.G.(2016). When the Mermaids Cry: The Great Plastic Tide. Updated April 2016. Retrieved from
  2. Law, K.L., Moret-Ferguson, S., Maximenko, N.A., Proskurowski, G., Peacock, E. E., Hafner, J., & Reddy, C.M. (2010). Plastic accumulation in North Atlantic subtropical gyre. Science, 329(59996), 1185-1188.
01 February 2021
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