How long does plastic "live" for?
Plastic pollution is any plastic that ends up in the environment – from bottles and bags to less obvious sources like teabags and clothes.
In the past 100 years humans have produced (and used) a lot of plastic. It's cheap, strong, light and versatile, but all of it eventually ends up in the ground, in the air, and in the sea – which is where marine animals like albatross, dolphins and turtles ingest it.
Our plastic waste has invaded the highest mountains and deepest oceans. No one knows exactly how long it will take to disappear, but it's at least hundreds of years.
How does plastic harm the environment?
Plastic sticks around in the environment for ages, threatening wildlife and spreading toxins. Plastic also contributes to global warming.
Almost all plastics are made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels (gas, oil and even coal).
Our reliance on plastic therefore prolongs our demand for these dirty fuels.
Burning plastics in incinerators also releases climate-wrecking gases and toxic air pollution.
Plastic in the food chain
Scientists have detected tiny plastics (smaller than 5mm) in salt, beer, seafood and human stools.
These microplastics break off bigger plastic items, or come from products like car tyres and cosmetics. They even wash off synthetic clothes.
Once they enter our rivers, soils and oceans, they can get into the food chain. As of yet, the impacts on our health are unknown.