Average person consumes the equivalent of a credit card each week

You are likely eating a credit card's worth of plastic every week. [Photo: Getty]
You are likely eating a credit card's worth of plastic every week. [Photo: Getty]

You could be consuming the equivalent to a credit card of plastic every week.

This is according to a new study, which found the average person ingest five grams (g) of tiny “microplastics” – or 2000 microplastic particles – which are found predominantly in our food and water.

Microplastics are defined as smaller than five millimetres in size.

This goes up to 21g – a clothes hanger equivalent – in a month, found researchers at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

READ MORE: How to quit plastic

We already know there is plastic pollution present in our water supply and some foods, with a study earlier this month finding we consume between 39,000 and 52,000 particles each a year.

However, the new research puts this into harrowing context.

The study was commissioned by WWF, as part of an analysis entitled “No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People”. More information can be found on their dedicated Your Plastic Diet website.

READ MORE: How to have a plastic-free period

So where do we consume the bulk of these plastic particles? The researchers broke it down as follows:

  1. Tap/bottled water - 1,769*

  2. Shellfish - 182

  3. Salt - 11

  4. Beer - 10

*Plastic particles – 0.1mm

We also ingest a lesser amount of particles from the air we breathe, although this “may vary heavily depending on the environment”, according to the findings.

Will ingesting plastics damage your health?

The Your Plastic Diet website admits there are no hard and fast answers to this yet.

“The truth is, we don’t know,” it says.

“We know that plastics are doing irreparable harm to wildlife, but scientists have only just started looking at what it’s doing to human health.”

READ MORE: Boots under fire for switching to plastic prescription bags

To find out how much plastic you are taking as an individual, you can take the “Plastic Test” on the website.

What can we do to reduce plastic in the environment?

Reducing plastic is a task for individuals to do in collaboration with businesses and government, urges the Your Plastic Diet campaign site.

"We cannot just remove it," Kavita Prakash-Mani, global conservation director at WWF International, told CNN. "Therefore we need to tackle plastic pollution at its very source [and] stop it from getting into the nature in the first place.”