When large-scale manufacturing and production of plastics started in the 1950’s it was barely used by anyone outside of the military. Less than 100 years later and humans have already produced nine billion tons of it. Seven billion tons is still trapped on Earth as garbage.
According to newly released research by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 76 percent of all the plastic that’s ever been produced is still on earth. Sixty percent of it is either in a landfill, recycled trash or contributing to environmental pollution. Because humans create so much trash every single day, to avoid running out of land, countries are forced to dump tons of garbage into the ocean.
According to a report by the Ocean Conservancy, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam dump 60 percent of the plastic waste that enters the world’s seas. Today plastic bags, bottles, and straws regularly end up inside the bellies of whales, or around the neck of a turtle or sea lion. Seabirds that mistake it for food can end up choking to death on a 30 year old straw.
"At the current rate, we are really heading toward a plastic planet. It is something we need to pay attention to."
The earth’s plastic problem isn’t going away. It’s actually getting worse, faster because humans keep making more of it. Most of all the plastic that’s ever been made and used is thrown away within the same year.
According to the study, plastic production is still growing. Half of all the plastic that exists today was made in the last 13 years.
"The growth is astonishing and it doesn't look like it's slowing down soon.”
The Great Pacific garbage patch, also known as the trash vortex, is a mass concentration of tiny pieces of plastic swirling around like a gyre in the North Pacific Ocean. It was discovered in the late 1980's and now scientists say that the vast majority of plastic has either sunken to the bottom of the ocean or is floating somewhere below the surface.
If production rates continue current rates, there will be 26 billion tons of plastic garbage taking up space on earth by 2050. By the end of the millennium the planet will be filled with zillions of tons of plastic.
Scientists say that we're only just beginning to understand the depth of the problem. Warning that unless a large scale effort is made to slow down production, billions of years from now after our species has gone extinct, the only thing future civilizations will have to remember us by is Tupperware.