According to some “the environmental cost, including carbon pollution released during production [of plastic], is staggering. At $40 billion a year, …. it’s more than the annual profits of the plastics industry.”

Acoording to the UNEP Report 2014

It finds that the overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is US$75 billion – financial impacts resulting from issues such as pollution of the marine environment or air pollution caused by incinerating plastic.

The report says that over 30 per cent of the natural capital costs of plastic are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing. However, it notes that marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, and that the figure of US$13 billion is likely a significant underestimate.

Concern is growing over the threat that widespread plastic waste poses to marine life, with conservative estimates of the overall financial damage of plastics to marine ecosystems standing at US$13 billion each year, according to two reports released on the opening day of the first United Nations Environment Assembly.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation claims, in their report on plastic,  that

“Assessing global plastic packaging flows comprehensively for the first time, the report finds that most plastic packaging is used only once; 95% of the value of plastic packaging material, worth $80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. Additionally, plastic packaging generates negative externalities, valued conservatively by UNEP at $40 billion.[1] Given projected growth in consumption, in a business-as-usual scenario, by 2050 oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish (by weight), and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production, and 15% of the annual carbon budget.[2]

New economic study shows marine debris costs California residents millions of dollars

Thanks to Fabiano of for keeping us well informed ….

AUGUST 12, 2014 — Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches.

The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

In order to better understand the economic cost of marine debris on coastal communities, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and Industrial Economics, Inc. (IEc) designed a study that examines how marine debris influences people’s decisions to go to the beach and what it may cost them. We selected Orange County as a study location because beach recreation is an important part of the local culture and residents have a wide variety of beaches from which to choose, some of which are likely to have high levels of marine debris.

The World Bank

estimates the yearly global cost of dealing with waste is more than $200 billion and predicts annual waste will exceed 11 million tons per day by 2100 if current trends continue. From the true cost of our waste

Local authorities, industry and coastal communities spend approximately £14 million a year to clean up beach litter in England and Wales alone (Environment Agency, 2004).
Annually the UK and maritime leisure industry is worth up to £11 billion.

Harbour authorities also have to pay to keep navigation channels free of litter – a survey of 42 harbour authorities reported that £26,100 is spent per year in some ports to clear fouled propellers and remove debris from the water

Some estimates put the cost of marine litter to the fishing industry at over £23 million a year (Environment Agency, 2002).

How much energy?

“Our previous work had suggested that bottled water production was an energy-intensive process, but we were surprised to see that the energy equivalent of nearly 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce the PET bottles alone,” Cooley told

Read more at:

Act Now

Let’s stop using plastic to make everlasting litter. And rather then wait for governments to act or the clean up bill get even bigger I invite you to join me in a plastic boycott. You can find loads of plastic free alternatives listed here on my blog.


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2 thoughts on “Plastic Costs A Lot

  1. Know what you mean. But then until I started this blog nearly a decade ago now I didn’t know much about plastic. I never even thought about it biodegrading or not. And I am older but not ancient and always been a little bit green. It has crept up on us unaware. But now we do know we have to tackle the problem and quickly. I too feel very sorry for the children of today who will never know a plastic free beach. But can’t be sad for too long – got to get up and make changes. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Sometimes I do not think people are even consciously aware of the amount of plastics they throw away without thinking twice. I do not know what has brought this on, but I see it everywhere, and it is mindbogglingly frustrating. People are not thinking ahead; they are not thinking of our descendants and the mess we are leaving for them. I used to run a compost education program in schools, and I often discussed plastics with them (from Kindergarten to Grade 7). They were often shocked when I held up a piece of plastic in the garbage and said, “This will never break down. Ever. It will only ever break apart into tiny pieces. And then what do you think happens to it?” This led to the conversation about plastics in our water systems and food chains because small animals think it is food. Oh, just typing this out makes me sad at the state of things!

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