8.3 billion metric tons of plastics is all that mankind has created since the large-scale production of synthetic materials began in the early 1950s. Most of it is recycled , according to a work published in the Science Advances magazine.
This work is the first global analysis of the production, use and destination of all plastics.
Led by a team of scientists from the University of Georgia, the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Sea Education Association, this global study determines the percentage of recycled plastic in the world: only 9 percent was recycled , 12 percent it was incinerated and 79 percent accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment.
And the pace of plastic production shows no signs of slowing down. If current trends continue, about 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050. As Jenna Jambeck , study co-author and associate professor of engineering at UGA, explains:
Most plastics do not biodegrade in any significant sense, so the plastic waste that humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years. Our estimates underscore the need to think critically about the materials we use and our waste management practices.