Over the past 70 years, we have produced more than 10 billion tons of plastic. Thus, by 2050, their volume of plastic waste may increase by 60%.
This was reported by The Washington Post.
Between 1950 and 2021, humanity produced about 11 billion tons of virgin plastic – the weight of 110,000 US aircraft carriers. Only about 2 billion tons of them are still in use. The rest – about 8.7 billion tons – is waste:
But now there is hope that this accumulation can be stopped. Last year, more than 175 countries agreed to draft an international treaty that legally mandates an end to plastic pollution by 2040. Preliminarily, with the help of comprehensive measures, countries can achieve a reduction in annual plastic waste by more than 87%.
Here are some of the most effective measures, according to data collected by scientists at the University of California:
It is estimated that such measures will reduce the amount of unmanaged plastic waste by at least 78 million tons.
"If we use the proceeds from this tax to invest $50 billion in global waste infrastructure, we could reduce environmental pollution by up to one-third compared to the usual scenario," the researchers emphasize.
It adds that a ban on polystyrene alone could reduce plastic waste by 500,000 tons by 2050, and on single-use plastics made from other polymers such as polypropylene could reduce pollution by 13.7 million tons. At the same time, such bans, while useful, are not able to critically change the situation without the implementation of other measures.
Experts warn that plastic waste threatens ecosystem health, biodiversity and efforts to combat climate change, as well as being a public health and environmental justice issue.
"The more plastic we produce, the more of it we find in our bodies – we contaminate ourselves," said Monica Medina, chair of the Wildlife Conservation Society.