Nature has a value, so-called natural capital. It consists of a wide range of services (ecosystem services) that we take for granted. For example tourism, fishing industry or recreational areas. If nature is damaged, these services deteriorate, which then also has a negative impact on economic sectors.
Polluting the sea costs us billions of euros a year
Nature offers man a multitude of riches – the so-called natural capital . Ecosystems provide us with e.g. oxygen to breathe, clean water, food, basic and raw materials for medicines and industry. They increase our quality of life and are often role models for technical innovations.
Plastic waste significantly reduces these qualities and thus also the potential yields from the oceans. Every ton of plastic can cause economic follow-up costs of several thousand euros per year. For the global economy, this means damage from plastic waste in the billions – per year . Economic costs that no polluter pays.
Plastic in our rivers and seas is causing enormous economic damage.
And in many areas that do not immediately come to mind.
- Fishing companies
- Destruction of World Heritage Sites
- Loss in tourism
- Rising costs due to health risks
- Consequential social damage
Tourism pays a high price
Polluted beaches and coastal regions could lead to protests , damage to image and tourist declines and ultimately also reduced income. Tourism in the Asia-Pacific region alone is suffering up to 600 million US dollars from littered beaches. Because of this, Bali declared a garbage emergency at the end of 2017.
But the problem is not as far off as we thought and it also affects Europe. Most recently, British, Belgian and Dutch municipalities together spent around € 30 million a year on beach litter removal. The main motivation and incentive for the removal are the potential economic impact on marine and coastal tourism. The Mediterranean, which is so important for tourism, is now also called “ Plastic Soup “.
Economic and social policy implications
Fish and seafood make up a fifth of their food for around 1.5 billion people worldwide. Plastic waste affects this and threatens fish stocks, which can have serious consequences for entire supply chains and retailers. But it can also cause other problems, including damage to ship engines and fishing gear, damage to ferries and boats – even damage to ports.
If this problem is ignored, it can mean lower earnings and lost working hours. This in turn can lead to increasing poverty and deepen existing social problems in regions that are particularly dependent on it.
Plastic in the environment not only loses valuable material in the material cycle. Rather, it also causes economic damage where it doesn’t belong. That is why plastic has a double negative effect – on our environment and on our economy.