For years, China has been the world’s biggest importer of used plastic, buying 106 million tons of old bags, bottles, wrappers and containers annually, according to Bloomberg. So last year, when the country announced it would cease buying the world’s trash, other governments knew they had a problem, but were unsure how big of a problem.
Turns out it’s huge. By 2030, an estimated 111 million metric tons of used plastic will need to be buried, recycled elsewhere or not manufactured at all, according to researchers at the University of Georgia.
The world’s plastic problem has been building for decades. Since mass production began in the early 1950s, annual output has grown from about 2 million tons to 322 million produced in 2015.
Researchers paint a bleak picture based on current production rates and demand forecasts. “Without bold new ideas and management strategies, current recycling rates will no longer be met, and ambitious goals and timelines for future recycling growth will be insurmountable,” they wrote. (Source: Bloomberg)
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