Survey of production and use of all plastics
The report contains much needed statistics on the types of plastics made, how they are used, and their eventual fate. The report estimates that 8,300,000,000 tonnes of virgin plastics have been produced to date. The vast majority is non-biodegradable and derived from fossil hydrocarbons.
As of 2015, 6,300,000,000 tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Of this, about 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, with the remaining 79% accumulating in landfills and scattered throughout the environment.
This near permanent contamination of the environment is a major concern. Plastic contamination has been found in all the world’s oceans. In 2010 alone it was estimated that between 4 and 10 million tonnes of non-biodegradable waste had been added to this marine contamination. The contamination of freshwater sources and land is also continuing.
About 380,000,000 tonnes of non-biodegradable plastics were produced in 2015. The report quotes another 2017 document published by European Plastics that states that the global capacity in 2016 for the production of bio-based or biodegradable plastics was only 4,160,000 tonnes.
The report clearly identifies the need for the replacement of non-biodegradable plastics by biodegradable/bioplastics. The potential market is vast and microbiology has a major role to play.
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