Source References for Scenes

A truckload of plastic is dumped in the ocean every minute

Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans annually, which is equivalent to one garbage truck’s worth of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute (Jambeck et al., 2015). If current trends continue, this rate is expected to double by 2030. The primary sources of this waste are inadequate waste management systems, littering, and industrial activities.

Source: Jambeck, J. R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T. R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., … & Law, K. L. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347(6223) , 768-771.

90% of Seabirds have ingested plastic

According to a study by Wilcox et al (2015), it is estimated that approximately 90% of individual seabirds have ingested plastic at some point in their lives with the number expected to increase to 99% by 2050.  The consequences for the birds can be severe and multifaceted. The chemicals present in plastics can leach into the birds’ tissues causing long-term health issues. Also, plastic debris clogs their digestive systems causing physical harm and can lead to malnutrition due to the false feeling of fullness created or death.  The impact has broader implications for marine ecosystems as declining seabirds disrupt food chains and have cascading effects on other species.

Source: Wilcox, C., Van Sebille, E., & Hardesty, B. D. (2015). Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing | PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(38), 11899-11904.

Recycling Rates

Approximately 9% of plastic is being successfully recycled globally. Although approximately 15% is collected, 40% of that is disposed of as residues. (OECD Global Plastics Report 2022).

According to a 2017 study, only about 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled, while 79% has accumulated in landfills or the natural environment and 12% has been incinerated (Geyer, Jambeck, & Law, 2017). The low recycling rate is attributed to a combination of inadequate recycling infrastructure, lack of public awareness, and the complexity of plastic materials.

Source: Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782.

OECD (2022). Global Plastics Outlook: Economic Drivers, Environmental Impacts and Policy Options, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Gyres and floating garbage patches 

Garbage patches are large areas of marine debris concentration caused by ocean currents. The most well-known is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California, which is approximately three times the size of France (Lebreton et al., 2018). These patches consist of plastics, fishing gear, and other debris, posing significant threats to marine life and ecosystems.

Source: Lebreton, L., Slat, B., Ferrari, F., Sainte-Rose, B., Aitken, J., Marthouse, R., … & Noble, K. (2018). Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 1-15.

Plastic Soup 

“Plastic soup” refers to the high concentration of microplastics suspended in the water column. It is created when larger plastic debris breaks into smaller particles due to weathering, sunlight, and wave action. These particles are ingested by marine life, often with fatal consequences, and can enter the food chain, affecting human health as well (Galgani et al., 2015).

Source: Cox, K. D., Covernton, G. A., Davies, H. L., Dower, J. F., Juanes, F., & Dudas, S. E. (2019). Human Consumption of Microplastics. Environmental Science & Technology, 53(12), 7068-7074.

The world’s rubbish dump: a tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan | The Independent | The Independent

Nets and Traps 

While it’s difficult to know exactly how many marine animals are killed by plastic pollution, it’s been estimated that plastic pollution kills 100,000 marine mammals every year. 81 out of 123 marine mammal species are known to have eaten or been entangled in plastic, and all seven sea turtle species are affected.

There are two principle ways that encountering marine debris can be fatal for these creatures: ingestion (eating) or entanglement in plastic-based fishing gear. (World WildlifeFund Australia).

Plastic in our oceans is killing marine mammals – WWF-Australia | Plastic in our oceans is killing marine mammals | WWF Australia 

Consuming a Credit Card 

Humans consume up to a credit card’s worth of plastic per week: According to a study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and conducted by the University of Newcastle, Australia, humans consume an average of 5 grams of microplastics per week, equivalent to the weight of a credit card (Cox et al., 2019). Microplastics are found in various food sources, including seafood, tap water, and even beer. The long-term health implications of microplastics consumption remain unclear, but research is ongoing.

Could you be eating a credit card a week? | WWF ( 

2050 Scales

By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans: A report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that, if current trends continue, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight by 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016). This projection is based on the increasing rate of plastic production and the limited success in mitigating plastic pollution. The consequences of this scenario would be dire for marine ecosystems and the human populations that rely on them.

Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2016). The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. Retrieved from

Dead Whales 

Entanglement in fishing gear is a known source of large whale injury and mortality.  The  Center for Coastal Studies Massachusetts estimates from their research that more than 50% of the humpback population they are studying in the Gulf of Maine have been entangled.  They estimate that 12% of the population will become entangled each year with juveniles being at the greatest risk.  The story of one whale they helped untangle 4 times before it was eventually tragically found dead, can be seen by clicking the link below.

Ingestion of plastic is another cause of injury and death in whales – Whales are considered sentinels of Ocean Health being at the top of the food chain.

Entanglement Research | Center for Coastal Studies

SPINNAKER’S STORY — Center for Coastal Studies (



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