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News Worms

Billion Metric Tons of Plastic Has Been Created Since 1950s

Billion Metric Tons of Plastic Has Been Created Since 1950s

She added: "We know that incentives such as bottle deposit return systems significantly reduce the amount of plastic ending up in landfill and beaches".

Their research calculates that 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been produced in the 65 years since the beginning of the 1950s - the decade in which mass production of plastics began. In this new study, the team said plastics are found in every major ocean basin in the world.

Nearly three-quarters of that plastic has already become waste, as opposed to still being in use, with the overwhelming majority of it building up in landfills or littering nature, rather than being recycled or incinerated.

"We are increasingly smothering ecosystems in plastic and I am very anxious that there may be all kinds of unintended, adverse consequences that we will only find out about once it is too late", said Roland Geyer, from the University of California and Santa Barbara, who led the project. About half of all the plastic that's ever been produced has been made in the past 13 years alone. "Between 2004 and 2015 we made as much plastic as we made between 1950 and 2004". Manufacturing of the most common kinds - polymer resins found in packaging like packing peanuts and plastic bags, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping and synthetic fibers like polyester - swelled from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015.

Unlike other materials, plastic can stay in the environment for thousands of years, Geyer said. Most plastics are not biodegradable and those that are were excluded from this analysis due to their low production volume of 4 million metric tons.

It said about 18 percent of plastics were recycled in 2014, and 24 percent incinerated. "So the cumulative input by 2025 would equal 155 million metric tonnes".

But Castillo Castillo told BuzzFeed News, that picture might be "more optimistic" than how things turn out in reality.

There was indeed a great future in plastics back in 1967 when "The Graduate" came out, and those words ring true even today as plastic production continues to soar.

"I think the danger is permanent global contamination with plastics".

Using alternatives to plastics for packaging and consumer goods such as glass, paper or aluminum requires more energy, Russell said. "I'm anxious that there could be all kinds of unintended adverse environmental consequences".

If things carry on as they are, we will eventually bury the planet in plastics.

Those were really stunning numbers at the time, Geyer said, and he was compelled to get a more comprehensive view of society's plastic use and management.

As of 2015, approximately 6,300 million metric tons was designated as waste and sent to landfill.

The key, Geyer said, is to ask yourself if you need to buy a product with so much plastic. But, since 2002, we've doubled that yield, Geyer said. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer.

"Plastic waste is now so ubiquitous in the environment that it has been suggested as a geological indicator of the proposed Anthropocene era", according to what is credited as the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever made.


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