Global warming and climate change have been on the news agenda for some years. 2016 was the hottest year on record globally for the third time in a row. It's been the subject of debate, denial, commitments and campaigning. I'm personally a climate change believer, it's a vital subject that continues to demand our attention and action. But there's another environmental issue that needs to be elevated onto the world's agenda in just as big a way. And that's the impact that humankind is having on our oceans.
The ocean is drowning in plastic waste. The average UK household uses one rubbish truck's worth of single use plastics a year; and every minute the equivalent amount is dumped into our oceans. And on a world-wide scale, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050 there could be more plastic in our seas than fish. Chilling.
Almost all the gadgets and widgets on which modern life depends have plastic in them. Most have longevity or can be easily recycled. Where the immediate concern lies is in the continued use of single use plastics; packaging, drink containers, cutlery, straws and plastic drinks bottles. Unfortunately less than half of these are recycled today and much of the rest ends up in the ocean. And that's having a shocking impact on marine life. It's not one of those far away problems. It's on our own shores, today.
At the end of its useful life, eight million tonnes of single use plastic each year is ending up in our oceans, disrupting the ecosystem. It doesn't break down. Experts tell us that 90% of the world's seabirds have plastics in their stomachs while turtles and mammals such as whales and dolphins regularly die after being trapped in plastic fishing nets.
If that wasn't shocking enough, it affects us too. A Sky News investigation airing today shows that 90 pieces of micro plastic are present in an average portion of mussels. If you are a frequent shellfish eater, up to 11,000 pieces of micro plastic will end up in your body per year.
We simply don't know how that will impact our long term health once it enters purifying organs; the liver and kidneys. Or how it affects our health in general.
So, with all of this in front of us, Sky is launching Sky Ocean Rescue, to shine a light on a vital part of our environment. We know environmental issues are important to our customers and we know they expect us to use our voice to help make a change.
Our campaign is starting with two days of coverage on Sky News and TG24 in Italy - and we will continue to highlight this important issue. We will be broadcasting a documentary 'A Plastic Tide' to bring home just how bad the problem is. We will share information on how people can make a difference and are asking people to share their stories with us too.
And from today we will make a step-change as a business. We will use our voice to put a spotlight on the dangers to the health of our oceans, helping to drive change starting with our 30,000 employees across Sky, to our customers in the UK and Europe.
We're doing our bit at Sky too from looking at designing our products with less material to ensuring all our products are recycled. Removing all single-use plastics is a significant step we are looking to take - for anyone who is also trying to do this, you'll agree it's an eye opener just how much plastic we use. But we've made a good start by removing all plastic water bottles, plastic cups, straws, and our cutlery is now made from corn-starch. This is just the beginning of the changes we plan to make. But we are up for the challenge and will do more, including looking into our supply chain and the products we make.
Being socially and environmentally responsible is core to our business. We see it as critical to building for the long term. Our Sky Rainforest Rescue campaign, in partnership with WWF raised more than £9million over six-years and helped save one billion trees in the state of Acre, Brazil.
We know that change can happen when people come together to act . This is an issue that affects us all, and it's set to get worse if we don't act today. A lot has already begun thanks to the work of NGOs and others. We want to add our voice to make a difference.
Jeremy Darroch is the group chief executive, SkySuggest a correction