Sad: Humans Have Created 9 Billion Tons of Plastic in 67 Years


by Mike Barrett , Natural Society:

In 1950, plastic was a rarity. Today, plastic is everywhere – in our homes, cars, streets, landfills, and oceans. Scientists recently calculated how much plastic humans have produced since that year, and the conclusion is mind-boggling: 9 billion tons, or 8.3 billion metric tons. [1]

A study published July 19, 2017 in the journal Science Advances reveals that plastics production has risen at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in the last 67 years, more than 2.5 times the rise in the global gross domestic product.

A mere 2 million pounds of plastic was available in 1950, compared with more than 400 million tons in 2015. Shockingly, half of the world’s plastics were produced in the last 13 years.

And, the researchers estimated, the amount of plastic in use now is 30{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of all plastics ever produced. [2]

As if your mind isn’t boggled enough, think of it this way: according to the U.S. Navy, 9 million tons of plastic is the equivalent to 85,567 aircraft “supercarriers” like the USS Gerald R. Ford, which weighs 107,000 tons (97,000 metric tons). [3]

As of 2015, about 7 billion tons of plastic waste had been disposed of as waste. Of that amount, just 9{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of it gets recycled, 12{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} is incinerated, and 79{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} winds up in landfills, according to the report.

If humans don’t act quickly to reverse the upward trend, 13.2 billion tons (6.3 billion metric tons) will be disposed of in landfills by 2050, the researchers wrote. Right now, there is already countless plastic particles polluting the oceans. Something needs to be done.

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