Plastic is now more commonly used than any time in human history, and several studies already warned that it might be becoming too much to handle. However, a new report determined just how much material was actually produced in the last 60 years or so, and the amount was staggering.
According to a new study, humanity made around 9 billion tons or 8.3 billion metric tons of mass-produced plastics since just the 1950’s. At the time, this started being manufactured on a large-scale.
To put the value into perspective, this is enough to cover ankle deep an area about the size of Argentina, which is the eighth largest country in the world.
9 Billion Tons of Plastic up to Just 2015, Half Being Produced in Just the Last 13 Years
Roland Geyer, who is an associate professor of industrial ecology part of the University of California, Santa Barbara is the lead author of this new research. According to the study paper, the amount of produced plastic masses was calculated for up till 2015. Also, around half of the quantity was produced over just the last 13 years.
Un until 2015, approximately 7 billion tons of the total amount of 9 billion tons have been disposed of and are considered waste. Among them, only an estimated 9 percent have been recycled. Some 12 percent of this mass was incinerated. However, the remaining 79 percent are still filling up or heading towards landfills, according to the report findings.
The team approximates that, if this trend holds up, some 13.2 billion tons of plastic will have found their way to landfills by 2050.
For their study, the researcher accessed both public and private data from different industry associations. This offered details on their production of high-density polyethylene (PE) or low- or linear low-density PE. It also brought data on the polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PE), PVC, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET.) PUR resins, PP&A fibers, polyamide, and polyester production was also analyzed.
“Virtually all the plastic we ever made is non-degradable. (It) will be with us for hundreds of years,” states Geyer.
He also noted that the plastic production seems to be growing by 8 percent per year for decades now. Thanks to its extreme usefulness, this is also far from slowing down.
Geyer expressed his uncertainty as to the faith of the planet in its relation to plastics which he went to assimilate to an experiment. Plastic seems to have now reached even the farthest, coldest, and most remote corners of the planet. Study results are now available in the journal Science Advances.
Image Source: Wikimedia