The Problem with Plastics

Plastics are a huge topic, about which entire books are published! We have wanted to write a blog about it for some time but frankly, we did not know where to start with such a huge subject and we didn’t want to write a book!

So, we narrowed down our focus and decided we wanted a better understanding of what is behind the problem with single-use plastic.

I mean, yes, without doubt, we need to use less single-use plastic and get better at managing plastic waste but, why is it so prolific in the first place? We also wanted to know what the industry and policymakers were doing to help us reduce our reliance on single-use plastic and its impact on our environment.

We thought a good place to start was by getting a brief overview of the size of the problem.

  • National Geographic Magazine state that Modern day plastics are just over 100 years old with half of all plastics ever manufactured being produced in the last 15 years.

  • They also tell us that the production of plastic increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050.

  • National Geographic also tells us that every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That is the equivalent of tipping five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.

  • As of 2015, more than 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent accumulated in landfills or in the environment.

  • Analysis of official government trade data by Unearthed shows that the UK sent 64,786 tonnes of plastic waste to non-OECD countries in the first seven months of 2020, the equivalent of more than 300 tonnes a day.