Only 9% of plastics ever produced have been recycled

Insights. 12.07.2018

Plastics are used everywhere now, but the productions are only traced back into 1950.

This research from Geyer et al (2017) identifies that there are total 8.3 billion metric tons produced between 1950 and 2015. Among these plastics produced, there are 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste generated, and only 9% have been recycled, only 10% of which have been recycled more than once.


What is happening with used plastic?

So, what happens to plastics that has not being recycled? Geyer et al (2017) indicates that with in the wastes generated, 12% of plastics have been incinerated. 60% of all plastics are in landfills or in the natural environment.

Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. These plastics that enter the environment are mostly the mass-produced plastics, which are not biodegrade in any meaningful way. Although they do not biodegrade, they do break down into small particles, known to reach millimeters or micrometers in size. These micro-plastics are in large quantities in marine and freshwater environments has accelerated in recent years, while there is limited information about situation of micro-plastics in land-based ecosystems.


“If this situation stays the same in coming years, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills by 2050, which are 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building.”


Reference: Geyer, Roland and Jambeck, Jenna R. and Law, Kara Lavender. 19 JUL 2017. Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. SCIENCE ADVANCE Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782.``

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