Much of the plastic deposited in recycling bins does not get recycled. Currently, more than 300 million tons of new plastic is produced annually and less than 10% of it recycled.
Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated to creating 8.3 billion metric tons – most of it in disposable products that end up as trash.
Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Most single-use plastic – like those shopping bags as well as water bottles – never gets recycled. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that only about 9% of plastic bags are ever recycled in the U.S. And a mere 7% of all plastics end up being recycled.
The vast majority (79%) is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Eventually, much of it ends up in the oceans. If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills. That amount is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building.
THE WORLD’S POPULATION CONSUMES 1 MILLION PLASTIC BOTTLES EVERY MINUTE
The worldwide consumption of plastic is still rising. In 2016, 480 billion plastic bottles were sold while in 2004, this was still 300 billion. Now, one million plastic bottles are sold every minute and the number of bottles sold yearly will increase to 583.3 billion in 2021.