The humans knew nothing about the synthetic plastics about a century ago, and commercial production of plastics began only around the 1950s. Ever since then, over 9 billion tons of plastic has been created, and it should not even come as a surprise that most of it has ended up in the trash. All of this is suggested by a new study intended to measure the total amount of plastics produced to date. The findings of the study were published in the journal Science Advances.
The commercialization of plastics has brought countless advantages to the humankind, all of which were unfortunately accompanied with a lot of pollution disasters that remained unforeseen. We have been blessed with low-cost materials with water-resistant capabilities, but with the curse of never dying trash in our landfills. About 7 billion tons of all the plastic produced has ended up in the trash, according to the study.
In the past few years, a lot of efforts have been made to make sure that plastic does not make its way to the trash and those efforts have only made it possible to recycle 9 percent of the plastic waste. While another 12 percent was recycled, the other 79 percent still made its way to the landfills.
The team made their estimates using many datasets on plastic production, which included the global annual pure polymer production data published by Plastics Europe Market Research Group from 1950 to 2015 and global annual plastic fiber production data published by The Fiber Year and Tecnon OrbiChem from 1970 to 2015. The team of researchers obtained their disposal data from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Plastics Europe, the World Bank, and the China Statistical Yearbook.
Back in 2015, the group of three researchers estimated that we dump 5 million to 13 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean every year and the plastics are now found in every major ocean basin in the world.
The paper reads, “The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material. The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications — durability and resistance to degradation — make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate. Thus, without a well-designed and tailor-made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.”
We are making all the attempts to clean the space of junk, but we are forgetting that our lands and oceans are becoming so polluted every day, that there might be no way of going back. Our pollutants are threatening the wildlife and the life in the oceans, and we remain oblivious, continuing to produce more plastic without ensuring proper disposal or recycling.