DID YOU KNOW…?

A new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology says it’s possible that humans may be consuming anywhere from 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year. With added estimates of how much microplastic might be inhaled, that number is more than 74,000. 

People who meet their recommended water intake through tap water ingest an additional 4,000 plastic particles annually, while those who drink only bottled water ingest an additional 90,000, the study found.

Study author Kieran Cox expects that his conclusions are underestimates, and that it’s likely people are consuming far more.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/you-eat-thousands-of-bits-of-plastic-every-year/
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.9b01517

Our World in Data has some incredible information about plastic, including Plastic Pollution and its FAQ on Plastics.

When you purchase plastic to-go containers, you might see this warning:

This product can expose you to chemicals including lead, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. For more information, go to www.p65warnings.ca.gov.

“While delivering many benefits, the current plastics economy has drawbacks that are becoming more apparent by the day. After a short first-use cycle, 95% of plastic packaging material value, or USD 80–120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. A staggering 32% of plastic packaging escapes collection systems, generating significant economic costs by reducing the productivity of vital natural systems such as the ocean and clogging urban infrastructure. The cost of such after-use externalities for plastic packaging, plus the cost associated with greenhouse gas emissions from its production, is conservatively estimated at USD 40 billion annually”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics” (page 15)

Current plastic packaging offers great functional benefits, but it has an inherent design failure: its intended useful life is typically less than one year; however, the material persists for centuries, which is particularly damaging if it leaks outside collection systems, as happens today with 32% of plastic packaging.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics” (Page 19)

More than 40 years after the launch of the well-known recycling symbol, only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling.

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics” (page 26)

“The recycling rate for plastics in general is even lower than for plastic packaging, and both are far below the global recycling rates for paper (58%) and iron and steel (70–90%). PET,14 used in beverage bottles, has a higher recycling rate than any other type of plastic, but even this success story is only a modest one: globally, close to half of PET is not collected for recycling, and only 7% is recycled bottle-to-bottle.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

“In addition to the 14% of plastic packaging collected for recycling, another 14% is sent to an incineration and/or energy recovery process…Many organisations have also raised concerns about the pollutants that are generated during energy recovery processes, which can have direct negative health effects if adequate pollution controls are not in place, as is often the case in the developing world. Also, even if appropriate pollution controls are in place, the resulting by-products need to be disposed of.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

“Furthermore, an overwhelming 72% of plastic packaging is not recovered at all: 40% is landfilled, and 32% leaks out of the collection system — that is, either it is not collected at all, or it is collected but then illegally dumped or mismanaged.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

“One indicative data point is that plastic packaging comprises more than 62% of all items (including non-plastics) collected in international coastal clean-up operations.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics” (Page 29)

Even by 2025, the ratio of plastic to fish in the ocean is expected to be one to three, as plastic stocks in the ocean are forecast to grow to 250 million tonnes in 2025.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

Plastics are made from a polymer mixed with a complex blend of additives such as stabilisers, plasticisers and pigments, and might contain unintended substances in the form of impurities and contaminants. Substances such as bisphenol A (BPA) and certain phthalates, which are used as plasticisers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), have already raised concerns about the risk of adverse effects on human health and the environment, concerns that have motivated some regulators and businesses to act.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

 “The 150 million tonnes of plastics currently in the ocean include roughly 23 million tonnes of additives, of which some raise concern.37 While the speed at which these additives leach out of the plastic into the environment is still subject to debate, estimates suggest that about 225,000 tonnes of such additives could be released into the ocean annually.”

From the Ellen McArthur Foundation report “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics

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