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plastic waste statistics

Plastics in the marine environment. Nonetheless, despite many documented cases, it’s widely acknowledged that the full extent of impacts on ecosystems is not yet known. Cole, M., Lindeque, P., Fileman, E., Halsband, C. & Galloway, T. The impact of polystyrene microplastics on feeding, function and fecundity in the marine copepod Calanus helgolandicus. (2013). Science of the Total Environment, 566, 333-349. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-16510-3_13. And, any additional plastics we add will contribute further. This does not include ‘littered’ plastic waste, which is approximately 2% of total waste (including high-income countries).76, Mismanaged waste: material that is either littered or inadequately disposed (the sum of littered and inadequately disposed waste). Bakelite, the first fully synthetic polymer, saw the light of day in 1907. Whilst we know that tracking ocean plastic inputs and their distribution is notoriously difficult26 the levels of uncertainty in these measurements are much less than the several orders of magnitude that would be needed to explain the missing plastic problem.27 Another popular hypothesis is that ultraviolet light (UV) and mechanical wave forces break large pieces of plastic into smaller ones.These smaller particles, referred to as microplastics, are much more easily incorporated into sediments or ingested by organisms. A global map of littered plastic from coastal populations (within 50 kilometres of a coastline) is shown here. Environment, Science & Technology, 49, 14597–14604 (2015). An official website of the United States government. The plastic waste tide we are faced with is not only obvious for us to clearly see washed up on shore or bobbing at sea. It may be the case that microplastics simply pass straight through the gastrointestinal tract without impact or interaction.65 A study of North Sea fish, for example, revealed that 80 percent of fish with detected microplastics contained only one particle — this suggests that following ingestion, plastic does not persist for long periods of time.66 Concentrations in mussels, in contrast, can be significantly higher. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1(5), 0116. The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. Micro (nano) plastics: A threat to human health?. This category includes bags, sacks and wraps; other packaging; polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and jars; high-density polyethylene (HDPE) natural bottles; and other containers. Available at: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1890/14-2070.1. As we see, basins in the Northern Hemisphere had the highest quantity of plastics. The chart shows the increase of global plastic production, measured in tonnes per year, from 1950 through to 2015. 2013. Environmental Science & Technology, 47(15), 8818-8824. What determines how much plastic waste we produce? In the period from 2010 to 2025, it’s therefore expected that there will be a slight shift in relative contribution from the Americas, Europe and North Africa towards Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Eriksen, M. et al. The End Plastic Pollution campaign helps people understand the impacts of plastic pollution on human and ecosystem health and how everyday actions can lessen the problem. EPA began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the United States more than 30 years ago. Which countries produce the most plastic waste? On the other hand, plastic waste In the chart we see the estimated composition of the GPGP plastic. Rist, S. E. et al. Although uncertain, it’s likely that marine sources contribute between 20-30 percent of ocean plastics, but the dominant source remains land-based input at 70-80 percent. Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. This is strongly reflected in the global distribution of. Some 30% of all the generated plastic waste is collected for recycling and recycling rates by country vary a lot, as shown in the infographic. (2014) estimated that there was approximately 269,000 tonnes of plastic in surface waters across the world.18. Plastics are typically buoyant – meaning they float on the ocean surface –, allowing them to be transported by the prevalent wind and surface current routes. In some regions, marine sources dominate: More than half of plastics in the. 4.4 pounds: The amount of trash generated daily, on average, by every American. All of our charts can be embedded in any site. Waste management statistics and overall recycling measures Key Highlights. Plastic enters the oceans from coastlines, rivers, tides, and marine sources. Tech. Woodall, L. C., Sanchez-Vidal, A., Canals, M., Paterson, G. L., Coppock, R., Sleight, V., … & Thompson, R. C. (2014). Whilst we try to tally ocean inputs with the amount floating in gyres at the centre of our oceans, most of it may be accumulating around the edges of the oceans. The 6 per cent reduction in the amount of waste generated compared to 2018 is the third yearly reduction since 2017. As a result, plastics tend to accumulate in oceanic gyres, with high concentrations of plastics at the centre of ocean basins, and much less around the perimeters. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 4666. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749116323910. This can occur through several mechanisms, ranging from uptake by filter-feeders, swallowing from surrounding water, or consumption of organisms that have previously ingested microplastics.44. Annual review of marine science, 9, 205-229. What is the relative contribution of each? We have many decades of legacy waste to contend with. 16. Ecosystem structures can also be impacted by plastics following interference of substrate with plastics (impacting on light penetration, organic matter availability and oxygen exchange). The world now produces more than 380 million tonnes of plastic every year, which could end up as pollutants, entering our natural environment and oceans. Primary plastic production by polymer type can be found here. A number of organisms, including suspension-feeders (for example, oyster larvae, urchin larvae, European flat oysters, Pacific oysters) and detritivorous (for example, isopods, amphipods) invertebrates show no impact of microplastics.54 Overall, however, it’s likely that for some organisms, the presence of microplastic particles in the gut (where food should be) can have negative biological impacts. Iñiguez, M. E., Conesa, J. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749116311666. In the case of microplastics (particles smaller than 4.75 millimeter in diameter), the key concern is ingestion. The authors estimate the GPGP spanned 1.6 million km2. Environmental Science & Technology, 49(22), 13622-13627. global primary production of plastic was 270 million tonnes; global plastic waste was 275 million tonnes – it did exceed annual primary production through wastage of plastic from previous years; plastic waste generated in coastal regions is most at risk of entering the oceans; in 2010 coastal plastic waste – generated within 50 kilometres of the coastline – amounted to 99.5 million tonnes; only plastic waste which is improperly managed (mismanaged) is at significant risk of leakage to the environment; in 2010 this amounted to 31.9 million tonnes; of this, 8 million tonnes – 3% of global annual plastics waste – entered the ocean (through multiple outlets, including rivers); Plastics in the oceans’ surface waters is several orders of magnitude lower than annual ocean plastic inputs. Liebezeit, G., & Liebezeit, E. (2014). As we see, Hong Kong typically acts as an entry point for Chinese imports; it is therefore the largest ‘exporting’ country to China. Why then do we find at least 100 times less plastics in our surface waters? One of the most widely-quoted estimates is 250,000 tonnes.24. In the chart we see the global distribution of mismanaged plastic waste aggregated by world region. Galloway T.S. Tied to China’s plastic exports is the repurposed (recycled) plastics market. For human health, it is the smallest particles – micro- and nano-particles which are small enough to be ingested – that are of greatest concern. It is important to keep in mind that plastic is a unique material with many benefits: it’s cheap, versatile, lightweight, and resistant. Plastic is a valuable resource in many ways, but plastic pollution is an unnecessary and unsustainable waste of that resource. License: All of Our World in Data is completely open access and all work is licensed under the Creative Commons BY license. In the chart we see the quantity of plastic exported to China from the top 10 exporting countries. River Yangtze, the top polluting river, had an input of approximately 333,000 tonnes in 2015 — over 4 percent of annual ocean plastic pollution. This makes a second priority necessary— we have to focus our efforts on recapturing and removing plastics already in our offshore waters and shorelines. Jambeck et al. Wang, J., Tan, Z., Peng, J., Qiu, Q., & Li, M. (2016). The distribution and accumulation of ocean plastics is strongly influenced by oceanic surface currents and wind patterns. Their results suggest that macroplastics can persist for decades; can be buried and resurfaced along shorelines; and end up in offshore regions years later. 70% of our plastic debris sinks into the oceans ecosystem, 15% can be found floating, and 15% will find its way on our beaches. An analysis by Rochman et al. It is also the case that countries with high levels of mismanaged waste also have large coastal populations (as shown in the chart). As the Chinese economy grows, its demand for repurposed plastic does also. Which countries export the most plastic waste to China? Eriksen, M., Lebreton, L. C., Carson, H. S., Thiel, M., Moore, C. J., Borerro, J. C., … & Reisser, J. The burning of plastics can release toxins to the air and surrounding environment and should therefore be carried out under controlled and regulated conditions. PLOS ONE 7:e32254, Oliveira M, Ribeiro A, Hylland K, Guilhermino L. 2013. Evidence of impacts of reduced food consumption include: Many organisms do not exhibit changes in feeding after microplastic ingestion. As we see in the chart, North America was responsible for 0.9 percent of global mismanaged plastic, and Europe & Central Asia for 3.6 percent. Still have a question about the data? Ingestion of plastics can have multiple impacts on organism health. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 30(12), 2136-2140. The first synthetic plastic — Bakelite  — was produced in 1907, marking the beginning of the global plastics industry. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141113615300659. Plastic waste generated further inland is unlikely to travel this distance. The amount of plastic in surface waters is not very well known: estimates range from 10,000s to 100,000s tonnes. Available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111913. Global plastic waste disposal has changed over time: there was virtually no recycling of plastics prior to 1980, while in 2015, an estimated 20% was recycled. Offshore we find large plastic objects dating as far back as the 1950s and 1960s. How has global plastic waste disposal method changed over time? How much of ocean plastics come from land and marine sources? Available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155063. Environment, Science & Technology, 49, 1130–1137 (2015). The average time taken by plastic bottles to decompose in a landfill is close to 700 years. In 2015, primary plastics production was 407 million tonnes; around three-quarters (302 million tonnes) ended up as waste. High-income countries, including most of Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea have very effective waste management infrastructure and systems; this means discarded plastic waste (even that which is not recycled or incinerated) is stored in secure, closed landfills. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782. Prior to 1980, recycling and incineration of plastic was negligible; 100 percent was therefore discarded. This exacerbates the challenge of ocean plastic pollution because poorly-managed waste is at high risk of entering the ocean. By 2030, it’s estimated that around 110 million tonnes of plastic will be displaced as a result of the ban. Inadequately managed waste: waste is not formally managed and includes disposal in dumps or open, uncontrolled landfills, where it is not fully contained. The table summarizes some standard ranges for a given particle category.78, This is assuming a mass of 75 kg per person [(381,000,000*1,000kg)/75kg per person=5,080,000,000 people]. This is differentiated by domestic plastic waste generation, shown in grey, and imported plastic waste shown in red. According to the EPA, 9.1% of plastic material generated in the U.S. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream was recycled in 2015. Note this does not mean there is no plastic at risk of entering the natural environment — see the section on littering below. The behaviors of microplastics in the marine environment. They therefore do not represent quantities of plastic at risk of loss to the ocean or other waterways. Adm. Browne MA, Niven SJ, Galloway TS, Rowland SJ, Thompson RC. The development of effective waste management infrastructure, particularly in middle-income countries, is therefore crucial to make progress against plastic pollution. Ingestion of plastic pollutants by marine birds. Firstly, is that the majority of ocean plastics are washed, buried and resurface along our shorelines. What could cause concern about the impact of microplastics? We can see this breakdown of plastic particles by ocean basin here. As we see in the following charts, there is high concentration of plastic within river systems geographically. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749114002425. The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world's oil production (bioplastics are not a … The accumulation of a large number of particles tends to result from the breakdown of larger plastics — this results in an accumulation of plastic particles for a given mass. Devriese, L. I., De Witte, B., Vethaak, A. D., Hostens, K., & Leslie, H. A. In short, this report gives an insight Continued research in this area is important to better understand the role of plastic within broader ecosystems and risk to human health. For context, this is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population.1. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 31(9), 1574-1578. 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste in landfill by 2050. Plastic Statistics Plastic Ain’t so Fantastic It is now believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Lebreton, L., Slat, B., Ferrari, F., Sainte-Rose, B., Aitken, J., Marthouse, R., … & Noble, K. (2018). Our articles and data visualizations rely on work from many different people and organizations. In 2018, plastics generation was 35.7 million tons in the United States, which was 12.2 percent of MSW generation. In the figure we summarize global plastic production to final fate over the period 1950 to 2015.5. Sources: Plastics information is from the American Chemistry Council and the National Association for PET Container Resources. Jambeck et al. Available at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060409. Worldwide, this year. Under growth scenarios, the authors assume annual  growth rates continue in line with the average increase in global plastic production over the decade from 2005-2015. Ogonowski, M., Schür, C., Jarsén, Å. 7,893,124. This has important implications for managing global plastic waste: if countries with effective waste management systems – predominantly high-income countries – export plastic waste to middle to low-income countries with poor waste management systems, they could be adding to the ocean plastic problem in this way. It provides the latest business information on production and demand, trade, recovery as well as employment and turnover in the plastics industry. These responses include oxidative stress, metabolic disruption, reduced enzyme activity, and cellular necrosis.40,41,42,43. Jabeen, K., Su, L., Li, J., Yang, D., Tong, C., Mu, J., & Shi, H. (2017). Here we see differences of around an order of magnitude: daily per capita plastic waste across the highest countries – Kuwait, Guyana, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, the United States – is more than ten times higher than across many countries such as India, Tanzania, Mozambique and Bangladesh. 523; UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. PloS one, 9(12), e111913. In fact, if North America & Europe were to completely eliminate plastic use, global mismanaged plastic would decline by less than 5 percent.10, The data presented in the analysis above is for the year 2010; how is this global picture likely to change over time? Science, 347(6223), 768-771. Plastic in our oceans can arise from both land-based or marine sources. Analyzed by sourceand despite a meagr. Microplastic pollution in table salts from China. Poor waste management across many middle- and low-income countries means that these are the main sources of global ocean plastic pollution, An estimated 20 percent of all plastic waste in the oceans comes from marine sources. In 2010, it implemented its “Green Fence” program – a temporary restriction for plastic imports with significantly less contamination. Lebreton, L., Egger, M., & Slat, B. Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.5b04026. In some cases, energy recovery from the incineration process is possible. Countries around the middle of the global income spectrum therefore tend to have the highest per capita mismanaged plastic rates. You have the permission to use, distribute, and reproduce in any medium, provided the source and authors are credited. The definitions of key terms used in this entry are as follows: Discarded: waste that is not recycled or incinerated; this includes waste that goes to landfill (closed or open), is littered, or lost to the natural environment. In Europe, energy recovery is the most used way to dispose of plastic waste, followed by landfill. Watts, A. J. R., Urbina, M. A., Corr, S., Lewis, C. & Galloway, T. S. Ingestion of plastic microfibers by the crab Carcinus maenas and its effect on food consumption and energy balance. Check out our Frequent Questions page. In 2018, landfills received 27 million tons of plastic. Plastic fibres have also been detected in other food items; for example, honey, beer and table salt.62,63,64 But the authors suggested negligible health risks as a result of this exposure. In Proceedings of the Workshop on the Fate and Impact of Marine Debris, 27–29 November 1984, Honolulu, Hawaii, ed. de Stephanis R, Gimenez J, Carpinelli E, Gutierrez-Exposito C, Canadas A. Secondly, accumulated plastics are much older than previously thought. Share of global total mismanaged plastic waste. The East Asia and Pacific region dominates global mismanaged plastic waste, accounting for 60 percent of the world total. 39, 2017). Single and combined effects of microplastics and pyrene on juveniles (0+ group) of the common goby Pomatoschistus microps (Teleostei, Gobiidae). This is followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (9 percent); Middle East & North Africa (8.3 percent); Latin America (7.2 percent); Europe and Central Asia (3.6 percent) and North America (1 percent). A dash in the table means that data is not available. Plastic pollution is having a negative impact on our oceans and wildlife health, High-income countries generate more plastic waste per person, However, it is the management of plastic waste that determines the risk of plastic entering the ocean. According to National Geographic, 73% of all beach litter is … There is increasing evidence that microplastic ingestion can affect the consumption of prey, leading to energy depletion, inhibited growth and fertility impacts. Interactions of microplastic debris throughout the marine ecosystem. EPA measures the generation, recycling, composting, combustion with energy recovery and landfilling of plastic materials in municipal solid waste. 50% of this is single-use plastic & only 9% has ever been recycled. (2017). The dominance of fishing lines, nets, hard plastics and films means that most of the mass in the GPGP had a large particle size (meso- and macroplastics). Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468584417300235. Take a look at the products and at the other materials we studied. Plastic waste in the marine environment: A review of sources, occurrence and effects. Environmental Pollution, 193, 65-70. Please consult our full legal disclaimer. To put this in context, China’s domestic plastic waste generation was around 61 million tonnes. In the chart we see the share of global plastic waste that is discarded, recycled or incinerated from 1980 through to 2015. 18. In some regions, marine sources dominate: More than half of plastics in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) come from fishing nets, ropes and lines Therefore, 10-11 percent of China’s total plastic waste was imported from around the world. Whilst this is the relative contribution as an aggregate of global ocean plastics, the relative contribution of different sources will vary depending on geographical location and context. 23, 1031–1033 (2013). Ingestion of microplastics have been shown to occur for many organisms. Most microplastics (three-quarters) in offshore environments are from the 1990s and earlier, suggesting it can take several decades for plastics to break down. 91 Percent of Plastic Is Not RecycledMany people don’t find an issue with their plastic use because … There are some key points we can take away from the visualization: What does this mean for our understanding of the ‘missing plastic’ problem? Mismanaged waste is the sum of inadequately managed waste (that which is not formally managed such as disposal in dumps or open, uncontrolled landfills which could leak to the surrounding environment) and littered waste. RS Shomura, HO Yoshida, pp. At the end of that year China introduced a complete ban on the imports of non-industrial plastic waste.73. Annual review of marine science, 9, 205-229. River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans. Around 52 percent of plastics originated from fishing activity and included fishing lines, nets and ropes; a further 47 percent was sourced from hard plastics, sheets and films; and the remaining components were small in comparison (just under one percent). The Agency uses this information to measure the success of materials management programs across the country and to characterize the national waste stream. If plastic production (and hence potential ocean inputs) from these regions were eliminated, global mismanaged plastic would decline by only 4.5 percent. A. This was 16.3 percent of all MSW combusted with energy recovery that year. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768. 17. Jambeck et al. Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress. Much of the macroplastics in our shorelines is from the past 15 years, but still a significant amount is older suggesting it can persist for several decades without breaking down. The chart shows that by 2015, the world had produced 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic — more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today. How much plastic has the world produced cumulatively? Cedervall T, Hansson LA, Lard M, Frohm B, Linse S. 2012. If we currently pollute our oceans with millions of tonnes of plastic each year, we must have released tens of millions of tonnes in recent decades. Here we see a very strong geographical clustering of mismanaged plastic waste, a high share of the world’s ocean plastics pollution has its origin in Asia. Scientific Reports, 7 (1), 8620. These projections assume growth in plastic generation rates and population, but that the proportion of plastic waste generation which is adequately managed remains constant. This is given in cumulative million tonnes. Lebreton, L., Slat, B., Ferrari, F., Sainte-Rose, B., Aitken, J., Marthouse, R., … & Noble, K. (2018). Inadequately managed waste has high risk of polluting rivers and oceans. (2015) assume a rate of littering of 2 percent of total plastic waste generation across all countries.8. Welden, N. A. C. & Cowie, P. R. Environment and gut morphology influence microplastic retention in langoustine, Nephrops norvegicus. 75-116). 1985. This also matters for how we solve the problem of ocean pollution. One possibility is that it is due to imprecise measurement: we might either grossly overestimate the amount of plastic waste we release into the ocean, or underestimate the amount floating in the surface ocean. … Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16305380. There have been many documented incidences of the impact of plastic on ecosystems and wildlife. EPA does not include plastics in transportation products, other than lead-acid batteries, in this analysis. This estimate is available only for the year 2010, but as we see later in this entry, the relative global picture is similar in projections to 2025. (2014). High-income countries have very effect waste management systems; mismanaged waste – and plastic that ends up in the oceans – is therefore very rare. But our best estimates of the amount of plastic afloat at sea are orders of magnitude lower than the amount of plastic that enters our oceans in a single year: as we show in the visualization, it’s far lower than 8 million tonnes and instead in the order of 10s to 100s of thousands of tonnes. There are multiple scenarios where this can have an impact on organisms. This data is also presented in the review by Law (2017): Law, K. L. (2017). You can use all of what you find here for your own research or writing. Scientific Reports 3:3263. Available at:  http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111913. Marine Pollution Bulletin 69:206–14. There is a wide gap between East Asia and the other regions — South Asia ranks second but contributes around 5 times less with 11 percent of the total. To understand the magnitude of input of plastics to the natural environment and the world’s oceans, we must understand various elements of the plastic production, distribution and waste management chain. Eriksen, M., Lebreton, L. C., Carson, H. S., Thiel, M., Moore, C. J., Borerro, J. C., … & Reisser, J. Here we see an inverse-U curve pattern. The results of the monitoring work carried out between 1999 and 2018 are summarised graphically in the figures below. Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans: more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons afloat at sea. Read more facts about recycling paper. As main meal for sperm whales: plastics debris. This can ultimately lead to death. PLoS ONE 11, e0155063 (2016). Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, “Announcement of releasing the Catalogues of Imported Wastes Management,” (Announcement no. Incineration: a method waste treatment which involves the burning of material at very high temperatures. Peer-reviewed publications of plastic impacts date back to the 1980s. In Marine Anthropogenic Litter (pp. The GPGP comprised 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, with a mass of 79,000 tonnes (approximately 29 percent of the 269,000 tonnes in the world’s surface oceans). The products and at the end of that year China introduced a complete on... Annual review of sources, occurrence and effects ( typically around 6 months less!, tides, and 1990 for recycling, rates increased on average, by American. 700 years paper – with their ocean Cleanup project combusted in MSW in 2018, plastics generation was 61. Just over one percent of the building material waste is considered inadequately.! 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