Would you eat a credit card? Or a comb? You wouldn’t, would you? Eating plastic is stupid.
The problem is that you are likely to be eating 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent weight of a credit card.
WWF’s analysis of the study, No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People, commissioned by WWF and carried out by University of Newcastle, Australia, suggests people are consuming about 2000 tiny pieces of plastic every week. This equates to approximately 5 grams a week, 21 grams a month and just over 250 grams a year. The University of Newcastle is the first to combine data from over 50 studies on the ingestion of microplastic by people. The findings are an important step towards understanding the impact of plastic pollution on humans. The single largest source of plastic ingestion is through water, both bottled and tap, all over the world.
That puts the “difficulty” of remembering to take cloth bags to the supermarket, to avoid using plastic wrap and not to eat take-away with plastic cutlery in perspective, doesn’t it?
Helping WWF launch the new findings is a consumer engagement campaign, Your Plastic Diet, created by Grey Malaysia. The campaign uses commonly recognised household objects made of plastic to quantify the amounts of plastic people are ingesting, to make the findings more relatable and shocking.
The campaign is launching worldwide via the WWF network to countries including Singapore, Australia, Japan, Columbia, Mexico, Germany and UK, and includes TV, digital, online and outdoor.
All campaign elements lead people to a campaign website www.yourplasticdiet.com that allows people to take a test that, based on their individual diet, uses the study findings to approximate their likely personal weekly plastic consumption. WWF is mobilising the public to support a global petition calling for a legally binding treaty on marine plastics pollution. The treaty would establish national targets and transparent reporting mechanisms that extend to companies.
“These findings must serve as a wake-up call to governments. Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life – it’s in all of us and we can’t escape consuming plastics. Global action is urgent and essential to tackling this crisis,” stated Marco Lambertini, WWF International director general.
“While research is investigating potential negative effects of plastic on human health, we are all clear that this is a worldwide problem that can only be solved by addressing the root cause of plastic pollution. If we don’t want plastic in our bodies, we need to stop the millions of tons of plastic that continue leaking into nature every year. In order to tackle the plastic crisis, we need urgent action at government, business and consumer levels, and a global treaty with global targets to address plastic pollution.”
No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People calls for governments to step up and play a key role in ensuring all stakeholders in the entire chain in the plastic system, from manufacturers to producers, are held accountable to the common goal of ending plastic pollution.
“While the awareness of microplastics and their impact on the environment is increasing, this study has helped to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates for the first time,” commented, Dr Thava Palanisami, project co-lead and microplastics researcher at the University of Newcastle.
Of course, people eating plastic is just one aspect of a much wider plastics crisis. Plastic pollution is a major threat to wildlife, not only through microplastic ingestion but because it tangles around entanglement and destroys their habitats. Plastic pollution also has damaging economic consequences, with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimating its annual economic impact on the ocean economy at US$8 billion.
- Overall CO2 emissions from the plastic life cycle are expected to increase by 50%, while the CO2 increase from plastic incineration is set to triple by 2030, due to wrong waste management choices.
- Eight million tonnes of plastic pollution ends up in the ocean every year.
- An additional 104 million metric tons of plastic is at risk of leakage into our ecosystems by 2030 without a drastic change in approach.
- Since 2000, the world has produced as much plastic as all the preceding years combined, a third of which is leaked into nature.
- More than 270 wildlife species have been documented as having been harmed by entanglement, while more than 240 species have been found to have ingested plastics.
Agency: Grey Group Malaysia
Executive Creative Director: Graham Drew
Creative Directors: Andrew Fong & Heng Thang Wei
Copywriter: Selva Ganapathy
Art Directors: Kevin Wong
Art Director & Ralve Khor
Producer: Suzy Chiang
General Manager: Jo Yau
Brand Director: Marcus SK
Account Executive: Vivian Khoo
Regional Director PR & Corp Comms AMEA: Huma Qureshi
Post Production: Glass
Sound Production: Maverick AV