Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

Humans Have Produced 8,3 Billion Metric Tonnes of Plastic Since 1950

Mechanical separation of plastic for recycling Mechanical separation of plastic for recycling
Sammy Stanley | 21 July, 2017, 00:43

More than 40 percent of the non-fiber plastic ever produced has been for plastic packaging, Parker reports, made to be ripped off and thrown away without a second thought.

"The vast majority of monomers used to make plastics, such as ethylene and propylene, are derived from fossil hydrocarbons".

In the study, the researchers describe how plastic production has been accelerating rapidly in recent years.

And, If current trends continue, the researchers warned more than 13 billion tons of plastic waste will be discarded in landfills or dumped in the environment by 2050 - around 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building in NY.

"Plastics are used because they are efficient, they are cost effective and they do their jobs", said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, an industry association that represents manufacturers.

Since the birth of plastic, production has escalated.

The same team of researchers concluded in 2015 that roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic found its way into the worlds oceans in 2010.

And, the production speed is increasing.

Where does it all go? There is now enough plastic in the world to completely cover a country the size of Argentina.

Out of the eight billion tons of plastic, about half has been made in the past 13 years and six billion finished as waste. Let's not even try to imagine how many fidget spinners that is. On average, only about 9 percent of Earth's 9 billion tons of plastic has been recycled. At current trends, it said the "global discard rate" of plastics would drop from 58 percent in 2014 to 6 percent in 2050. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for fourteen percent of all US goods exports.

They said recycling merely delays, rather than avoids, plastic disposal, unless it reduces new plastic production. Each carries unique consequences.

"I was really surprised by how big the production numbers were", he said. Of this, 9% was recycled and 12% incinerated.

Manual separation of plastic bottles, labels and caps.

The study calculated that of the 8.3 billion tonnes made, almost 6.4 billion tonnes were no longer used.

In 2014, 30 percent of plastic waste was recycled in Europe, and 25 percent recycled in China.

It said that about half of plastics are used in packaging, so they enter the waste stream quickly, while most steel and concrete, the other large-scale manmade materials, are mostly used in construction and can take decades become waste.

Plastic waste in water is hurting or killing more than 600 species of marine life including dolphins, fish, sea turtles, and whales, according to Nancy Wallace, a marine debris program director at the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Burning plastic eradicates it.

CPEC and the environment: good, bad or ugly?

So where has all that plastic gone?

More than 8 billion metric tons. But, numerous environmental impacts of these microplastics on natural environments, including freshwater and marine ecosystems, remain unknown. To put that into perspective, there are roughly 7.5 billion people on the planet meaning that there is more than one metric ton of plastic for every person alive today.

"Single use" plastics on East Beach, Henderson Island in 2015.

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