We’re Now At A Million Plastic Bottles Per Minute – 91% Of Which Are Not Recycled
Every person reading this has used a plastic bottle, many of whom likely used one in the past day or week. Plastic, in the recent decades, has become a staple of convenience and a modern lifestyle. The surge in plastic bottle use has accompanied a desire for bottled water as Asia has modernized its lifestyle.
Several recent reports indicate the dire global situation associated with the world’s plastic use. Two statistics jump out immediately. One, that globally humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute. The second, 91% of all plastic is not recycled. On top of that, it is estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020.
This presents an overwhelming challenge in responding to an exponential increase in recyclable yet un-recycled products.
Plastic bottles are commonly made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which take 400 years to naturally decompose, yet is highly recyclable. On geologic timescales, 400 years is not significant and one may make the claim that we can just wait it out until the bottles naturally decompose. However, there are two significant issues with this. There are no signs of decreasing plastic use, hence the plastic decomposition clock will constantly be reset. Secondly, and more importantly, we must understand how this increase in plastic waste globally will impact other systems and their function.
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