We all know that plastic pollution is a concern to society worldwide. People have been exposed to numerous report on how declining the state of our nature. But, the most horrifying part, is that the animals and wildlife are paying the price for our wastes that infiltrates their habitat for decades.
Most of us aren’t fully aware of how it came to be the way it is today. In 1907, the first synthetic plastic was produced and marked as the beginning of the global plastics industry. However, rapid growth in global plastic production was not realised until the 1950s. Up until 2015, the annual production of plastics increased nearly 200-fold to 381 million tonnes.
Overall, approximately 80% of ocean plastics come from land-based sources, and 20% from marine. But, in particular regions, marine sources can dominate. To understand the magnitude of input of plastics to the natural environment and world's oceans, we must understand various elements of the plastic production, distribution and waste management chain. This is crucial, not only in understanding the scale of the problem but in implementing the most effective interventions for reduction.
So, how much plastic does the world produce?
From the facts of how crowded the environment has been with plastic pollution, we can all imagine that the production is as skyrocketing. By mid-70s, annual global polymer resin and fibre production were around 50 million tonnes. As for 2015 alone, the number has gone to over 350 million tonnes. And, of the 5800 million tonnes of primary plastic no longer in use, only 9% has been recycled since 1950.
Plastic Waste Generation Across the World
Plastic waste per person, measured in kilograms per person per day, the highest countries are Kuwait, Guyana, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, the United States. Those countries produce plastic waste about more than ten times higher than across many countries such as India, Tanzania, Mozambique and Bangladesh.
With the largest population, China produced the largest quantity of plastic, at nearly 60 million tonnes. This was followed by the United States at 38 million, Germany at 14.5 million and Brazil at 12 million tonnes.
Mismanaged plastic waste
Mismanaged waste is material which is at high risk of entering the ocean via wind or tidal transport, or carried to coastlines from inland waterways. Mismanaged waste is the sum of material which is either littered or inadequately disposed.
The East Asia and Pacific region dominate global mismanaged plastic waste, accounting for 60% of the world total. There is a wide gap between East Asia and the other regions — South Asia ranks second but contributes around 5 times less with 11% of the total. This is followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (9%), Middle East & North Africa (8.3%), Latin America (7.2%), Europe and Central Asia (3.6%) and North America (1%).