Thursday, October 12, 2017

Plastic Facts

We make so much plastic, and most of it is pretty unnecessary, especially the packaging:

Note that this is just one year of the plastic produced in our world. What percent of that packaging plastic is needed in any sense, such as for food safety? I'd be willing to bet it's less than a quarter of it.

And then there's what happens to the plastic after its first use, using data on all the plastic produced from 1950 to today:

So 91 percent of the time, its first use is its only use. And almost 80 percent of it ends up in the ground or the environment... which includes the stuff floating in the ocean.

I wish we had a visualization of what a metric ton is. I imagine plastic is generally fairly light, so it would take a fair amount of it to equal a metric ton (2,200 pounds). Luckily, I did find this graphic on the internet:

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have the billion elephants or 80 million whales.

Source of the graphics with green backgrounds: Discover magazine, with data from "Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made," from Science Advances, 2017. The metric ton graphic is by Janet A. Beckley, University of Georgia, shown on this University of California site.

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