We Now Have The First Global Calculation of the Amount of Plastic Earth is Choking On

Khryss | Published 2017-07-20 15:04

And it is definitely not pretty.

Quick question: Who among you knows somebody, even just a single person, who has never used plastic--ever--in his/her entire life?

NO ONE. Because we all have no idea how to live a world without it. And surprise, surprise, we're now reaping all what we (and our great grannies) sowed.

Anyway, any idea on how much plastic we've produced so far? (Trust me, we'll be producing more.) Well, nothing much, just about 8.3 billion metric tons as of 2015! And of that, we have over 6.3 billion metric tons that has become waste.

Thanks to the hardwork of a recent study's authors, we now have the figure directly slapping us one by one--the first ever global analysis of all our dear plastics. But hey, we still have those recycling programs, right?

Oh dear, I hate to break it to you but this team found that only 9 percent (!) of these 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste were recycled. But don't worry, we were able to incinerate about 12 percent of those!

Also, they did check out those biodegradable and bio-based plastics we've made. Unfortunately, they were only about 4 metric tons (which were not included in the analysis btw).

And as what I've said, there'll be more to come as we seem to never learn our lesson and still continually produce more and more each year.

"We need big and bold approaches here. Notching up the recycling rate by a couple of percentage points is not going to cut it," said lead author Roland Geyer, associate professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UCSB. "My hope would be that [the study] will add a sense of urgency to the debate about how we're going to use plastics in the future."

Climate change is one thing, the eroding landfills, polluted waterways and poor waste management is another. But what do they have in common? The cause--us.

Photo / Art by Bonnie Monteleone


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