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The week in plastic - in pictures

This week marked World Environment day and World Ocean day, both of which highlighted plastic global pollution as the most urgent problem facing our planet. So as a parody of our popular Week in wildlife gallery, from dead pelicans to trapped turtles and garbage-eating cows, we bring you ... the Week in plastic.

Eric Hilaire

  • Plastic bags arrive at their breeding ground of Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India. Today we produce about 300m tonnes of plastic every year - nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

    Photograph: Subhash Sharma/Zuma/Alamy

    Mumbai, India. Plastic at Juhu Beach. Today we produce about 300m tonnes of plastic every year - nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
  • Animals graze on nutritious plastic rubbish in New Delhi, India. Figures show India has the world’s 14 most plastic-polluted cities.

    Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA

    Animals sift through rubbish in New Delhi, India. Figures show India has the world’s 14 most plastic-polluted cities.
  • Birds search for plastic delicacies at a landfill site in Aceh, Indonesia. Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest - 79% - has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.

    Photograph: Fachrul Reza/Barcroft Images

    Birds scavenge at a landfill site in Aceh, Indonesia. Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest - 79% - has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
  • A crab searches for a lovely new home among the plastic waste on a beach in Lima, Peru, on World Environment day, 5 June 2018. The UN urged steps against the use of plastic bags, as part of a global challenge to reduce the increasing pollution of the oceans.

    Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

    A crab surrounded by plastic waste is pictured on a beach in Lima, on World Environment day, 5 June 2018. The UN urged steps against the use of plastic bags, as part of a global challenge to reduce the increasing pollution of the oceans.
  • Mbale, Uganda. An officer at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre displays a tortoise whose shell was deformed after it was rescued from some plastic string. Many animals hope that plastic mutilation will make them more attractive during mating season.

    Photograph: Daniel Edyegu/Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo

    Mbale, Uganda. An officer at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre displays a tortoise whose shell was deformed after it was rescued from some plastic string.
  • A swan and a mallard duck play hide and seek among rubbish in the river Thames in Limehouse, London.

    Photograph: Nigel Bowles/Alamy

    A swan and a mallard duck swim among rubbish in the river Thames in Limehouse, London.
  • Gulls love to nest in plastic waste at a landfill site in Cape Town, South Africa. According to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Africa is one of the most affected continents due to its extensive coastline and underdeveloped waste systems that allow plastic waste to easily enter the ocean.

    Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

    Gulls fly around plastic waste at a landfill site in Cape Town, South Africa. According to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Africa is one of the most affected continents due to its extensive coastline and underdeveloped waste systems that allow plastic waste to easily enter the ocean.
  • A mangrove shoot thrives amid the plastic in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia has been ranked the second biggest marine polluter in the world behind only China, with reports showing that the country produces 187.2m tonnes of plastic waste each year. This week, the government announced it will join forces with the country’s two largest Islamic organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, using their extensive networks across the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation to encourage consumers to reduce plastic waste and reuse their plastic bags.

    Photograph: Ed Wray/Getty Images

    A mangrove shoot surrounded by plastic in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia has been ranked the second biggest marine polluter in the world behind only China, with reports showing that the country produces 187.2m tonnes of plastic waste each year. This week, the government announced it will join forces with the country’s two largest Islamic organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, using their extensive networks across the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation to encourage consumers to reduce plastic waste and reuse their plastic bags.
  • Decorative plastic waste washed ashore on the coast near Shanghai. About 8m tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the world’s oceans every year - the equivalent of one truck of plastic being tipped into the sea every minute, every day. More than half comes from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a 2015 study.

    Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

    Plastic waste washed ashore on the coast near Shanghai. About 8m tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the world’s oceans every year - the equivalent of one truck of plastic being tipped into the sea every minute, every day. More than half comes from five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a 2015 study.
  • A woman walks through a stunning plastic forest that was created by rising floodwater south of Hanoi.

    Photograph: Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

    A woman walks through a stunning plastic forest that was created by rising floodwater south of Hanoi.
  • A dead pelican lies in the rubbish of the Tarcoles river, Costa Rice, one of the most polluted basins in Central America.

    Photograph: Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA

    A dead pelican lies in the rubbish of the Tarcoles river, Costa Rice, one of the most polluted basins in Central America.
  • A gannet carries some tasty plastic food back to its nest.

    Photograph: Graham Moore/Alamy

    A gannet carries some tasty plastic food back to its nest.
  • A cow models a plastic head decoration for cattle in New Delhi. India will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced this week.

    Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA

    A cow models a plastic head decoration for cattle in New Delhi. India will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced this week.
  • Plastic bottles will soon be appearing alongside cod and haddock on chip shop menus, it is hoped. About 10% of the volume of each fish haul caught is plastic waste.

    Photograph: Laura Lezza/Getty Images

    Plastic bottles will soon be appearing alongside cod and haddock on chip shop menus, it is hoped. About 10% of the volume of each fish haul caught is plastic waste.
  • This turtle is having fun playing in discarded plastic netting which prevents it from reaching the surface and breathing. A loggerhead turtle trapped in a drifting abandoned net, Mediterranean Sea.

    Photograph: Jordi Chias/NPL/WWF

    This turtle is having fun playing in discarded plastic netting which prevents it from reaching the surface and breathing. A loggerhead turtle trapped in a drifting abandoned net, Mediterranean Sea.
  • This stag is hoping to attract a suitable mate with its impressive plastic horn adornment.

    Photograph: SNH/PA

    This stag is hoping to attract a suitable mate with its impressive plastic horn adornment.
  • This whale’s tasty plastic feast ended in disaster when it swallowed up to 80 plastic bags and died.

    Photograph: Department of Marine and Coastal Resources/Reuters

    This whale’s tasty plastic feast ended in disaster when it swallowed up to 80 plastic bags and died.
  • A dog enjoys the view at Kibarani dump site in Mombasa, Kenya. A year after Kenya announced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags, and eight months after it was introduced, the authorities are claiming victory.

    Photograph: Andrew Kasuku/AFP/Getty Images

    A dog enjoys the view at Kibarani dump site in Mombasa, Kenya. A year after Kenya announced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags, and eight months after it was introduced, the authorities are claiming victory.
  • Beautiful plastics pebbles adorn a beach in Indonesia.

    Photograph: Hotli Simanjuntak/EPA

    Beautiful plastics pebbles adorn a beach in Indonesia.
  • There were celebrations this week when it was revealed that plastics had finally reached the world’s last great wilderness of Antarctica.

    Photograph: Christian Aslund/Greenpeace/PA

    There were celebrations this week when it was revealed that plastics had finally reached the world’s last great wilderness of Antarctica.
  • This grey mullet in Hong Kong is thrilled to find microplastics in its habitat.

    Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

    This grey mullet in Hong Kong is thrilled to find microplastics in its habitat.
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