Published: Fri, July 21, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

There's Enough Plastic Trash In The World To Bury Manhattan, Twice

There's Enough Plastic Trash In The World To Bury Manhattan, Twice

This makes plastic one of the most produced man-made materials, with the exception of things like steel and cement.

Recent figures from Recycle Now show that Britain bins around 16 million plastic bottles a day and If a year's worth of the UK's unrecycled plastic bottles were placed end to end, they'd reach around the world 31 times, covering just over 780,000 miles.

The world's plastic industry has produced more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic in the last seven decades, and nearly 78% of it is no longer being used, according to a scathing new report.

Unsurprisingly, plastic's largest primary use is packaging, with a global shift from reusable to single-use containers greatly contributing to the increase in plastic production and waste.

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Even with those big improvements in waste management, it still said the amount of plastics landfilled or littered would double by 2050 because of large increases in the amount of plastic used. They make up about 40 percent of non-fiber plastics, Geyer said. "But I do think we need to take a careful look at our use of plastics and ask if it makes sense". If current trends in plastic production and waste management continue, the plastic debris housed in landfills and natural environments - now 4.9 billion metric tons - will more than double by 2050, scientists reported Wednesday in Science Advances.

The report said that an emerging technology, pyrolysis, breaks plastic back into the oil it was made of, but this has to date destroyed a negligible amount of plastic compared to incineration - which varies in its environmental friendliness.

That leaves about 79 percent of that waste - 10.8 trillion pounds or so - left to accumulate in landfills or the natural environment, the study says, noting that "none of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable". Fish and birds are eating the stuff, and one 2016 study projected the seas may hold more plastic than fish by mid-century.

"Lightweight plastics offer significant environmental benefits throughout the life cycle of many products and packages, but we fail to maximize those benefits if we don't manage these resources after we use them".

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An overwhelming majority of packaging plastics are acquired and discarded within the same year.

The researchers used industrial data on the raw inputs of plastic production from multiple countries to add up the toll. And there's no sign that plastic production is slowing down anytime soon. At current trends, it said the "global discard rate" of plastics would drop from 58 percent in 2014 to 6 percent in 2050. Plastic consumption has far outpaced scientific study into the material and its impacts, scientists say. But due to their longer useful lifetimes, only 12 million metric tons, or 5 percent, of waste was created by construction.

Recent Scottish studies revealed that as many as nine out of ten fulmars found dead in the North Sea had eaten plastic, while almost as many prawns sampled in the Clyde had plastic in their guts.

Chelsea Rochman, a professor of ecology at the University of Toronto, told the Associated Press: "At some point we will run out of room to put it.some may argue we already have and now it's found in every nook and cranny of our oceans". Plastic debris is now ubiquitous in marine environments, while contamination of freshwater systems and terrestrial habitats is also increasingly reported, "as is environmental contamination with synthetic fibres". Most of our media is owned by a handful of offshore billionaires with personal agendas.

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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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