A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change.
Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.
Scientists recently calculated people who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year.
Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top 583.3bn by 2021, according to the most up-to-date estimates, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments.
The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised “on the go” culture to China and the Asia Pacific region.
More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun.