Humans Have Produced Whopping 9 Billion Tons of Plastic


Its cylindrical splendour and appealing bounciness made it a firm favourite.

Unlike other materials, plastic can stay in the environment for thousands of years. Waste management information for 52 other countries for 2014 indicates the rest of the world has recycling and incineration rates similar to the US. "It is something we need to pay attention to". One is that plastics are a fraction of the stuff we throw in the garbage.

Packaging is the largest market for plastic and the petroleum-based product accelerated a global shift from reusable to single-use containers, researchers said.

A new study, which is the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever made, finds that since large-scale manufacturing of plastics took off in the 1950s and until 2015, humans have produced approximately 9 billion tons (8.3 billion metric tons) of plastic. Twelve percent (800 million metric tons) has been incinerated and nine percent (600 million metric tons) has been recycled. The majority, 79 per cent, is piled-up in landfills. It's 45,000 blue whales or 3,370 of the heaviest thing the Guinness record crew has ever weighed or 24.5 Empire State Buildings.

The researchers are quick to stress, though, that the study should be used to highlight the issue and generate discussion about the use and distribution of plastic, and is not calling for the total removal of plastic from the marketplace.

Currently, the world produces 440 million tons (400 million metric tons) annually, he said.

"Our estimate of eight million metric tonnes going into the oceans in 2010 is equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world", said Jenna Jambeck, co-author of both studies, in a statement at the time.

Because none of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable, they accumulate rather than decompose. The damage is far-reaching.

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Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone.

Geyer said the findings "tell me that we need all tools in the sustainable materials management toolbox" to get a handle on the problem. They are in pipes and other construction material.

"Roughly half of all the steel we make goes into construction, so it will have decades of use - plastic is the opposite", said Roland Geyer, lead author of the paper and associate professor in University of California, Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy created to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. Plastic waste is everywhere, collecting on roadsides and in ocean gyres.

But plastic still grips our imagination.

Giving evidence to MPs a year ago, one expert said plastic should be considered toxic once it got into the natural world because of this effect.

They say such knowledge could help offer better solutions to the challenges posed by the global increase in plastics production and use. Scientists recently reported that the beach there, despite being so far from any civilization, is absolutely choked with plastic litter, with hundreds of pieces of plastic debris within each square meter of sand. But engineers and environmentalists aren't vying for total recall - to stop using plastic overnight would be reckless, let alone impossible.

"Our mantra is you can't manage what you don't measure", Dr Geyer said.

"There are areas where plastics are indispensable, especially in products designed for durability", said paper co-author Kara Lavender Law, a research professor at SEA.