An article published on July 19, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances reported on production, use, and end-of-life fate of mass-produced plastics. Roland Geyer and colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Georgia, and the Sea Education Association, all U.S., compiled data on “polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives into a comprehensive material flow model.” According to the authors’ estimations, 8,300 million metric tons of virgin plastics have been produced until now. “Plastics’ largest market is packaging, an application whose growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use containers,” the authors explained. By 2015, about 6,300 million metric tons of plastic waste had been generated as a result. Around 9% of that waste was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. The authors further estimated that approximately 12,000 million metric tons of plastic waste will end up in landfills or the natural environment by 2050 if current plastic production and waste management trends continue.

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Seth Borenstein (July 19, 2017). “World’s plastic waste could bury Manhattan 2 miles deep.Associated Press

Sarah Zhang (July 19, 2017). “Half of all plastic that has ever existed was made in the past 13 years.The Atlantic

Steve Toloken (July 19, 2017). “Study looks at fate of all plastics ever made, finds most are in landfills or litter.Plastics News

American Chemistry Council (July 19, 2017). “Plastics makers welcome latest study of plastics production, use, fate.

Laura Parker (July 19, 2017). “A whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled.National Geographic

Plastics Pollution Coalition (July 20, 2017). “New global study shows the production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made.

Tabitha Watson (July 20, 2017). “Three-quarters of all the plastic ever made is now waste.Chemistry World

Climate News Network (July 24, 2017). “Humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic in the last 67 years.EcoWatch

Gero Rueter (July 26, 2017). “River of plastic trash is flooding our oceans.DW


Geyer, R. et al. (2017). “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made.Science Advances (published July 19, 2017).