A new study released data on all the plastics ever made, and the findings are alarming. More than 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since 1950 and over half the plastic ever produced was made in the past 13 years.
We have heard some pretty staggering facts related to single-use waste, and they’re so overwhelming that we’ve become desensitized in a way. But this one is hard to comprehend: There is now one ton of plastic garbage for every person on Earth. A study by ScienceAdvances released in July gathered global data on the lifecycle of plastic. They studied data on the production, use, and end-of-life management of plastic components for the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured.
The study estimates that of the 8,300 million metric tons of plastics have been produced and about 6,300 million metric tons has reached the end of its useful life and is now considered trash. Shockingly, only 9% of it has been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% polluted landfills or the environment. If the trend continues, about 12,000 million tons of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the environment by 2050.
The study also found that plastic production is rapidly accelerating and single-use plastic packaging is now the largest plastic market. The world has made as much plastic in the past 13 years it did in the previous 50.
What to do?
Immerse yourself in plastic pollution news. Connect with people and organizations advocating for reducing plastic waste like Break Free From Plastic. Take the pledge to reduce single-use plastic at Plastic Pollution Coalition:
REFUSE disposable plastic whenever and wherever possible. Choose items that are not packaged in plastic, and carry your own bags, containers and utensils. Say ‘no straw, please.’
REDUCE your plastic footprint. Cut down on your consumption of goods that contain excessive plastic packaging and parts. If it will leave behind plastic trash, don’t buy it.
RECYCLE what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse. Pay attention to the entire life cycle of items you bring into your life, from source to manufacturing to distribution to disposal.
Get serious about being part of the movement to eliminate single-use plastic. Learn more here.
Image credit: Justin Hofman.