The amount of plastic which ends up in the ocean each year is set to almost triple by 2040 unless governments and industry dramatically ramp up their anti-plastic.

A sobering report published by Pew Charitable Trusts and London-based sustainability consultancy Systemiq estimates that annual ocean plastic waste will soar from 11 million metric tonnes today to 29 million metric tonnes by 2040 if current consumption and production patterns continue. That would mean the cumulative amount of plastic clogging up the ocean would reach roughly 600 million tonnes by 2040, the equivalent weight of three million blue whales, according to the study, dubbed ‘Breaking the Plastic Wave’.

Policymakers already have at their disposal the tools and technologies needed to tackle the problem, but “rapid and concerted action” is needed, the report contends. With the right mix of measures introduced by industry and government, it estimates the amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean could fall by much as 80 per cent by 2040.