The proliferation of plastic products in the last 70 years or so has been extraordinary; quite simply we cannot now live without them. This epidemic of plastic has resulted in an increased introduction from around 50 million tonnes in 1950 to 245 million tonnes in 2008 (Plastics Europe). Plastic is cheap and incredibly versatile with properties that make it ideal for many applications. However, these qualities have also resulted in it becoming an environmental issue. We have developed a ‘disposable’ lifestyle and estimates are that around 50% of the plastic we use we use just once and throw it away. Plastic is a valuable resource and plastic pollution is an unnecessary and unsustainable waste of that resource.
- According to water filtration company Brita, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year.
- Packaging is the largest end use market segment accounting for just over 40|% of total plastic usage (Plastics Europe)
- Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
- A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- Plastic accounts for around 10% of the total waste we generate