20 July 2017

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Revealed First time How much plastic humans have produced

Revealed First time how much plastic humans have produced

The plastic will hang around for hundreds if not thousands of years, with potentially harmful consequences for the environment.

all plastic produced does not biodegrade – although it can break down into smaller beads, or ‘microplastics’.

plastic’s toughness makes it ‘difficult or impossible for nature to assmilate’ and add that the consequences of dumping so much plastic are unknown.

Roland Geyer of the Bren School of Environmental Science at the University of California in Santa Barbara and colleagues made the calculation – the first time the amount of plastic produced has been estimated. He said that most of the plastic ever produced was single use packaging.

Jenna Jambeck, study co-author at the University of Georgia, Athens, said: ‘Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Since 1950, when plastic was first mass produced, humans have produced 9.1billion tons.

The amount is comparable to the weight of some 90,000 Eiffel Towers or 1.2billion African elephants

A report said that Around 9% has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated, meaning 5.6 billion tons is polluting the planet - either dumped in landfill, in the sea or countryside.

Of those 9 billion tons, half was made in the last 13 years, said Roland Geyer, an associate professor of industrial ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lead author of the new study, which was published online today (July 19,2017) in the journal Science Advances.

Currently, the world produces 440 million tons (400 million metric tons) annually.

The authors calculated how much plastic was made by combining data on production, use and disposal statistics worldwide.

The report said that most plastics in the form of fibre – such as synthetic fabrics – are not recycled at all, and are either burnt or sent to landfill.

Around 4-12 million tons of plastic ends up in the sea each year.

The main plastics produced are high density polyethylene – used for plastic bottles – PET (polyethylene terephthalate), polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) –polyester, polyamide and acrylic.

Worldwide, European countries recycle most – at 30 per cent – followed by China at 25 per cent.

The United States recycles just 9 per cent of its plastic, a figure that has not gone up since 2012.

The researchers calculate that at current rates, by 2050 just 6 per cent of plastic will be thrown away, with the global recycling rate hitting 44 per cent by then.

A further 50 per cent of plastic will be incinerated, on current trends.

And by 2050, on current measures, we will have tossed away around 12billion tons of plastic waste in landfill sites or the environment.

To put this into perspective, the authors say twelve billion metric tons is nearly 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building.

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.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tags – Plastic Recycle