By the Numbers: World Oceans Day

June 8 has been the unofficial celebration day for the world’s oceans ever since it was first proposed by two ocean-focused Canadian agencies at the 1992 Earth Summit – UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the idea of strengthening the voices of ocean and coastal constituencies and reminding the world that oceans are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. The focus of the 2018 celebration is on keeping plastic out of the oceans. The United Nations has recognized World Oceans Day since 2008.


The number of countries identified by the Ocean Conservancy that produce the most plastic pollution, due to ballooning populations and mismanaged waste disposal. They are China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. According to the World Economic Forum, the United States belongs in the top five waste-generating developed countries.


The approximate percentage of plastic that is recycled.


The percentage of the Earth’s surface that is covered by water.


The percentage of ocean pollution that comes from people on land. The other 20 percent comes from the fishing and shipping industries.


The percentage of seabirds that have been found to have ingested plastic.


The percentage of plastic detected in U.S. tap water in a 2017 sampling, rating as the highest plastic contamination in the world. Europe has the lowest plastic contamination at 72 percent.


The percentage of sea turtles that have been found to have ingested plastic.


The percentage increase in the production of plastic resin globally since 1975. In the last 10 years more plastic was produced than during the whole of the 20th century.


The estimated number of pieces of microplastic the average seafood eater consumers.


The annual loss of marine mammals due to pollution.


The number of microplastic fibers that can be released into the environment in the single cycle of a washing machine.


The number of plastic bottle caps volunteers in the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup recovered in a single day. They also picked up 1 million plastic beverage bottles and about a half-million each of plastic bags and drinking straws. Single-use packaging is the biggest source of trash found in or near bodies of water.

1 million

The annual loss of seabirds due to pollution.

8 million

The estimated number of tons of plastic that enter oceans annually.

500 billion

The number of plastic bags used around the world annually.


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