Research shows that the plastic produced since the 1950s is equivalent in weight to 1 billion elephants. Just 9% of this has been recycled. Most of the rest has been sent to landfill, burnt or simply discarded. These items are carried by wind and rain into drainage systems and rivers, eventually reaching the sea.
The amount of rubbish found dumped on UK beaches rose by a third last year, according to a new report.
More than 8,000 plastic bottles were collected by the Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach clean-up at seaside locations from Orkney to the Channel Islands on one weekend last September.
On average, 99 bottles were picked up along every kilometre cleaned by volunteers. It is estimated that plastic bottles can take up to 500 years to break down once in the sea.
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with 4.5 trillion discarded annually. Estimates on the required time for cigarette butts to break down vary. They range from five years to 400 years for complete degradation. 
The rapid growth of the extractive industries is raising serious global concerns. It is partly in response to our insatiable demand for the latest electronic gadgets. These are designed to have a shorter lifespan and be thrown away.
An average mobile phone is made from 42 different minerals including aluminium, coltan, copper, gold and tungsten
More than 85 percent of the world's fisheries have been pushed to or beyond their biological limits and are in need of strict management plans to restore them. Several important commercial fish populations (such as Atlantic bluefin tuna) have declined to the point where their survival as a species is threatened. Target fishing of top predators, such as tuna and groupers, is changing marine communities, which lead to an abundance of smaller marine species, such as sardines and anchovies.
Fresh water sustains human life and is vital for human health. There is enough fresh water for everyone on Earth. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people (most of them children) die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. It is estimated that 783 million people do not have access to clean water and over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge.