While it’s easy to ignore the huge impact that consumer choices have on the world, the findings from a new study published this week offers alarming insight into how mass-produced plastic is effecting our shared environment. Conducted by Science Advances, the report is the most exhaustive study on plastic to date: It analyzes how much has been made, the effects of different types, and what happens to it after it’s no longer of use. Here, we break down seven of the study’s most shocking findings that will have you rethinking your approach to plastic.
1. Counting from the 1950s through to 2017, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been produced. Around half of that total number has been manufactured since 2004.
2. If plastic production continues at its current rate, roughly 12 billion metric tons will be in landfills or the natural environment by the year 2050.
3. Five million to 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year. Additional findings from the study indicate that this waste is now also contaminating rivers and streams, seeping into the land that we live on and that animals (many of which are slaughtered for food or used for dairy purposes) graze.
4. In 2015, one-use packaging made up 54% of non-fiber plastic thrown away.
5. Since the ‘50s, the majority of plastic produced (around 6.30 billion metric tons) has been discarded. Approximately 12% of has been burned, 9% has been recycled, and 79% is in landfills or spread throughout the environment.
6. Europe leads the way when it comes to recycling, but it’s still not great: 30% of non-fiber plastic is recycled on the continent in comparison to just 9% in the United States. In China, 25% is recycled.
7. While recycling plastic is better than throwing it in the trash, it is not the answer to reducing the world’s plastic pollution. The study’s conclusion warns that the only way to make an impactful difference is to slow plastic production immediately and dramatically.
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createdAt:Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:55:04 +0000