Health Care

Humans Have Produced Whopping 9 Billion Tons of Plastic

Humans Have Produced Whopping 9 Billion Tons of Plastic”

Most of these plastics are either high-density polyethylene (used for plastic bottles and pipes), polypropylene (used for packaging, but has many other applications) or polyvinylchloride (PVC - used for piping).

About half of the total amount of plastics produced from 1950 to 2015 has been made in just the last 13 years.

Just over two tons of plastics were produced globally in 1950, when mass manufacturing of the durable material began, said the report. That figure has risen to 8.3bn in 2017 and is projected to reach 34bn by 2050.

But the amount of jet fuel saved by the exchange was enormous, Hoornweg said. "We should look at the numbers and ask as a society, is this what we want, can we not do better?"

Unlike other materials, plastic can stay in the environment for thousands of years, Geyer said. In 2015, the world created 448 million tons of plastic - more than twice as much as made in 1998.

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Chelsea Rochman, a professor of ecology at the University of Toronto, told the Associated Press: "At some point we will run out of room to put it.some may argue we already have and now it's found in every nook and cranny of our oceans". But what's even more disturbing is where all this plastic is ending up. And plastic production is still increasing.

"There is much more attention paid to how plastics are interacting with marine organisms but there is much, much less known about how plastics interact with terrestrial organisms - I would suspect there is something equivalent going on and it might actually be worse".

It runs beach clean-ups around the United Kingdom and said the most common single-use plastics found on beaches included: plastic bottles, coffee cups and lids, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic stirrers and food packaging.

"The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material", the authors conclude.

"The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications - durability and resistance to degradation - make these materials hard or impossible for nature to assimilate", the study said. Professor Roland Geyer has been quantifying our production and consumption of plastic over the decades and has shown that of the vast plastic waste we create; only 9% has been recycled.

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To visualise the scale of the problem Geyer said he had carried out a "thought experiment". If you spread all that plastic out ankle-deep, "it [could] cover an area the size of Argentina, which is the eighth-largest country in the world", he said.

China is the world's largest producer of plastics, with Europe and North America looming large as major players, Dr Geyer said.

The facts are especially frightening, since, according to a study from 2015, only nine percent of all plastic waste generated was recycled, 12 percent incinerated, and 79 percent accumulated in landfills and in the environment.

"It's something as a society we collectively have to have a good think about", Geyer said. Now published in Science Advances, it's the first global analysis of the production, use and fate of all the plastics our species has ever produced - and it's showing just how badly we need to rethink plastic, and why we're using so much of it.

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