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In pictures: The plastic pollution pandemic

Posted by Angela Glienicke - 23rd October 2018

A global survey released today shows that none of the major consumer goods giants responsible for most of the single-use plastic in circulation have any plans to reduce the amount of plastic packaging they produce.

The Greenpeace survey of eleven world-leading brands including Coke, Nestle and Procter & Gamble, also reveals most of these companies do not know how much of the plastic packaging they produce is actually recycled, and even less about its destination after it’s been used.

The survey is featured in a new Greenpeace report, which highlights how recycling alone cannot tackle the growing ocean plastic crisis, citing research showing that only 9 percent of plastic produced globally between 1950 to 2015 was actually recycled. At the same time plastic production and the use of single use plastic is increasing substantially year on year and projections indicate plastic use will quadruple by 2050 if we continue with business as usual.

The following images include plastic waste Greenpeace collected during recent Break Free From Plastic brand audits and plastic waste found during our voyage into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

A Greenpeace diver points to a plastic bottle found with bryozoans, nudibranchs, crabs, and barnacles growing and living upon it. The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise voyaged into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch  to document plastics and other marine debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a soupy mix of plastics and microplastics, now twice the size of Texas, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean.
Manta rays are seen in the cold upwellings off Nusa Penida Island, Bali, Indonesia. More and more single use plastics are swept along the coast.
Greenpeace volunteers collect and audit plastic garbage during a beach clean-up activity at Padansari beach, Bantul, Yogyakarta. Greenpeace Indonesia ran the activity as part of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic global movement to reduce single-use plastic products usage.
Thousands participated in the Manila Bay clean-up and plastic waste brand audit in Roxas Blvd, Metro Manila.
Mounds of plastic trash are carried away into the shores of Manila Bay by monsoon and Typhoon Yagi (local name Karding).

During World Clean-Up Day Greenpeace volunteers clean up the river banks in the Karlin town district in Prague, Czech republic. They carried out a brand audit to identify the major corporate contributors to plastic waste polluting the environment.
Monkeys eat plastic scattered around Batu Caves, Malaysia. Batu Caves is a an iconic and popular tourist attraction in Selangor. A site of a Hindu temple and shrine, it also attracts thousands of worshippers and tourists, especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam.
Blue Footed Boobies sit in between plastic waste on the beach (Sula nebouxii). Isla Lobos de Tierra, Peru.
A white bottle of unknown origin drifts in the garbage patch.
A violet pelagic snail and encrusting bryozoans sit on a piece of black plastic collected in the Pacific Garbage Patch. This snail usually creates a floating mass of bubbles which it uses to drift through the oceans, feeding on other drifters like by-the-wind sailors and Portuguese man o’ wars.
Microplastics collected at the surface of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Pieces are laid out on a 5×5 mm grid next a U.S. quarter, for perspective.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia conducted a clean-up and plastic brand audit activity at Wonnapa beach, Chonburi province on World Cleanup Day. The activity aimed to call on corporations to take responsibility for the plastic pollution problem caused by plastic packaging.