Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans costs society billions of dollars every year in damaged and lost resources, research has found.
A study conducted by the Marine Pollution Bulletin reported that plastic pollution currently costs society up to $2.5 Trillion a year.
According to The Guardian, plastic waste is said to cost up to $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value. In addition, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic pollution ends up in the oceans ever year.
Dr Nicola Beaumont, an environmental economist at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, explained that the investigation is the first of its kind to explore the impact of plastic pollution for society.
“Our calculations are a first stab at ‘putting a price on plastic’. We know we have to do more research to refine, but we are convinced that already they are an underestimate of the real costs to global human society” said Beaumont.
It is important to remember that the estimates do not take the direct and indirect impacts on the tourism, transport and fisheries industries, or on human health, the authors warned.
Dr Kayleigh Wyles, an environmental psychology lecturer at the University of Surrey, said the research was the first to show the “holistic” impact of plastic pollution.
“As well as the devastating effect plastics have on our ecological and marine systems, they also directly and indirectly impact society,” she said.
“Quantifying the enormous tangible and intangible costs associated with marine plastic waste can only help to make the case for devoting our attention and resources now to protecting the seas for future generations to enjoy.”
Beaumont said she too hoped the study would streamline services to address plastic pollution and “help us make informed decisions”.
“Recycling a ton of plastic costs us hundreds against the costs of thousands if we let it into the marine environment” she said.