Fact File: Five takeaways on plastic

Toward pollution free future

Recycling Labyrinth, exibition by artist Mona Sfeir constructed from thousands of collected plastic bottles at U.N. Geneva. U.N. Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
18 April 2018

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — Earth Day organizers are encouraging consumers to scrutinize their plastic use habits to cut down on pollution. Here are five facts about plastic:

  • 3 billion metric tons of virgin (non-recycled) plastic have been created to date. Half of that was in the last 13 years. Most of it (6.3 billion metric tons) is no longer in use. Of that, around 12 percent has been incinerated, 9 percent has been recycled, and the rest is either in landfill or scattered around the natural environment, including in oceans.
  • Every minute, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic is dumped in the ocean. Around 8 million metric tonnes of plastic go this way every year. By 2050, there will be more plastic (by weight) than fish in the sea if we keep polluting at current rates.
  • More than 20 times more plastic is used now than in 1964, and the main cause of this increase is the rise in plastic packaging.
  • Currently only 14 percent of plastic packaging around the world is collected for recycling, and only 2 percent is re-used. This represents a loss of $80-120 billion of value per year.
  • Every year, we use 17 million barrels of oil just to make plastic water bottles – enough to fuel a million cars. Climate change and plastic pollution are connected crises – to divest from fossil fuels, we will have to ditch the plastic habit.


The Plastic Pollution Coalition

The United Nations Environment Program

The World Economics Forum

Earth Day Network


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