A study published in the journal Science Advances has revealed that the United States ranks in the top three countries contributing to coastal plastic pollution. This includes scrap plastic exports and the latest figures on illegal dumping and littering in the country. The new research challenges the once-held assumption that the United States is adequately “managing” — that is, collecting and properly landfilling, recycling, or otherwise containing — its plastic waste. Plastic waste management and recycling are a lie.
Plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century, and production really only took off around 1950, we have 9.2 billion tons of plastic to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling facility—a figure that stunned the scientists who crunched the numbers in 2017.
Most plastic packaging is never even collected by waste management and a negligible fraction of the collected packaging is actually recycled.
Plastic is much more difficult to recycle than you were told. Most plastic ends up in a landfill, despite the promotion of plastic recycling. Plastic production has outpaced recycling more than 5x over the past decade.