Plastic is an amazing man-made material – it’s cheap to produce and has many uses! But half of the plastic we produce is designed to be used just once and then thrown away – and even plastic that can be reused or recycled gets chucked out, too! 

Much of our unwanted plastic ends up in the ocean – around 8 million tonnes of it every year, in fact! And because plastic takes 400 years to break down, it stays there for a long, long time, putting our friends beneath the waves in serious danger. Let’s dive in and take a closer look…

Plastic in the Ocean – the facts and figures…


different species of animals are believed to be severely threatened because of plastic pollution in the ocean.

22 million

tonnes of a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by the ocean each day because of rubbish. The ocean has always sucked up CO2 from the air as part of nature – but our waste means more is being absorbed than before. As a result, the water is becoming more acidic, which could make it harder for fish to breath and for creatures like crabs, lobsters and coral to grow their shells.

Plastic waste washed up on the beach
Lots of plastic waste is found washed up on beaches all over the world


of all dead animals found in beach cleanups worldwide have been entangled in plastic bags.


animals and birds were found trapped by marine debris (such as old ropes, nets, mesh and wires) during a recent international coastal cleanup.

Bird caught in a plastic net
Many sea birds get caught up in the ocean’s plastic waste

5 trillion

pieces of plastic (not including microbeads – minuscule plastic balls found in toiletries like face washes and toothpaste) are estimated to be floating in the world’s seas.


of seabirds eat plastic rubbish, mistaking it for food.


of fish found during a recent expedition had plastic in their stomachs.


of sea turtles worldwide have accidentally eaten plastic rubbish in the ocean.

Sea turtle and fish in the ocean
Sea turtles gobble up plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish

The facts and figures are pretty shocking, right? The good news is that people around the world are working to together to reduce plastic waste. Join the mission and check out our 10 tips to reduce plastic pollution!

What did you think of our Plastic in the Ocean feature?  Will you be helping to solve the plastic problem? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Photo credits: Pixabay




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  • ryan


  • madison

    this article was really helpful for my book report.

  • Carter

    it is very inportent that we keep the ocen clean!

  • Soooooo sad

  • Let's do this!

  • Meg

    we should really do something

  • Ava

    wow thats sad

  • Miah

    this helped me alot

DIG Academy MPU

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