Medicine

Humans have produced 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950

Humans have produced 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950”

Global plastics production increased from 2.2 million tons in 1950 to more 440 million tons in 2015, outgrowing the manufacturing of most other manmade materials, according to the study.

The only materials that humans have produced more of are steel and cement.

If current production, use and waste management trends continue, the study projects the total amount of plastic dumped in landfill or polluting the natural environments by 2050 will be 12 billion tonnes - though the paper does note that a material flow analysis of this kind requires multiple assumptions or simplifications, so projections are subject to uncertainty and can not necessarily be regarded as solid predictions. As the largest market within plastics is disposable packaging, created to be used once, half of all plastic produced is discarded in under four years.

Sky News launched its Sky Ocean Rescue campaign earlier this year aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the world's seas. Plastic is pretty much everywhere humans are at any part of the day, anywhere in the world.

"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".

If things carry on as they are, we will eventually bury the planet in plastics. "It's also a challenge because in order to get high-quality secondary plastics, you need to separate all the different polymers and make sure it doesn't get contaminated".

About half of the total amount of plastics produced from 1950 to 2015 has been made in just the last 13 years. The remainder - more than three-quarters of plastic waste and more than half of all plastic ever made - ended in landfills or natural environments. But unlike concrete and steel - materials that hold our infrastructure together - plastic tends to be thrown away after just one use.

They say such knowledge could help offer better solutions to the challenges posed by the global increase in plastics production and use.

"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.

A new study conducted by academics from the University of California and Santa Barbara leaves us with new information and statistics regarding the plastic pollution of our planet - and all said information leads to one conclusion that can no longer be denied.

Since nearly all plastic is non-biodegradable, these materials could "be with us for hundreds of years", languishing in landfills or floating in our seas, Geyer told NPR.

"In 2025, the annual input would be about twice the 2010 input, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline", she said. At current trends, it said the "global discard rate" of plastics would drop from 58 percent in 2014 to 6 percent in 2050. The second-largest use is for construction, at about 20 percent. Most of our media is owned by a handful of offshore billionaires with personal agendas. (The U.S. only recycles around nine percent of its plastic).

And we still don't really know how all this plastic waste is impacting the health of humans, ecosystems and other living organisms.

Another study of remote Arctic beaches found they were also heavily polluted with plastic, despite small local populations.

To develop a truly comprehensive waste management plan, Hoornweg said communities need strategies to address and track other waste too, such as metals and hazardous materials.



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