recycling facts

5 staggering facts about plastic recycling

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We use plastic in so many different things, from a wide range of products, through to lots of different types of packaging. With all of the plastic that is produced, it is hardly surprising then, that a lot of it goes to waste. According to National Geographic, there are already over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. 

We all need to learn to get better at recycling plastics. We are continually reminded of the damage that we are doing to our planet by throwing away plastics instead of recycling them. 

Here are 5 staggering facts about plastic recycling. 

Less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled

According to National Geographic, less than a fifth of all plastic is actually recycled. Europe fares best, recycling 30% of its plastic, with China recycling 25%. Lagging way behind though is the United States on just 9%. 

It is very clear that the whole world needs to get behind recycling plastic. 

Since 2012 the UK has shipped over 2.7 million tons of plastic waste to China

According to the Guardian, between 2012 and 2018, the UK shipped over 2.7 million tons of plastic waste over to China. Shipping waste to China used to be big business, however, the Chinese government has made changes, and now they now no longer allow other countries to ship their waste in.

18 billion pounds of plastic end up in the ocean each year

Each yeah, 18 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in the world’s oceans, further adding to the considerable amount of plastic waste that already existed there. Each year, enough plastic waste is added to the seas to cover every single foot of coastline around the world with five full rubbish bags of plastic every year.

When you consider the rate that we have increased our plastic production by over the last two decades, the speed at which we are filling our seas with plastic pollution is staggering, making recycling vital if we are to preserve the seas. 

The last two decades have seen a staggering growth in plastic production

Between the year 2000 and 2015, global plastic production has risen from 213 million tonnes per year to 381 million tonnes. 

Cumulatively, by 2015, the world had produced 7.8 billion tons of plastic since the 1950s. That is over a  ton of plastic per person alive on the planet today.

Packaging accounts for the most plastic produced

When it comes to working out where the biggest areas for plastic production are, the packaging is one of the biggest areas. In 2015 alone there were 146 million tons of plastic produced for use in packaging. And, with so many plastic packagings not being sent back for recycling, this is a problematic statistic. 

In order to help minimize this staggering statistic, you can do three things, firstly, wherever possible, recycle your packaging, secondly, avoid buying products with packaging, and thirdly, where possible, look to buy products that make use of recycled packaging. 


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