In three decades, the world's oceans will contain more discarded plastic than fish when measured by weight, researchers say.
The shocking finding was revealed in a newly released Ellen MacArthur Foundation report that investigates the inefficiency of the world's plastic economy.
While researchers acknowledge that plastic is integral to everyday life, they underscore the urgent need to reduce plastic waste. Most plastic packaging products are used only once before they are thrown away, resulting in annual economic losses of up to $120 billion.
How Does Your Plastic Bag Get Into the Ocean?
Furthermore, plastic production is notoriously resource-intensive, and could consume 20 percent of all oil produced by 2050.
The plastic economy currently employs a largely linear flow, with disposable plastics having a definitive lifecycle that oftentimes ends in the world's oceans and landfills, where they degrade slowly and harm wildlife.
According to nonprofit conservation organization Keep America Beautiful, Americans produced 30 million tons of plastic products in 2009, only 2 million tons of which was recovered.