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Study: Nine Percent of the Plastic Produced Since 1950 Has Been Recycled

A study published in the journal Science Advances offers findings from the first-ever global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured.

The authors estimate that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) of virgin plastics have been produced since 1950, the beginning of large-scale production.

They also document the fate of these plastics, reporting that around 9% have been recycled and 12% incinerated. Seventy-nine percent are now in landfills or the natural environment. “If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050,” the authors state.

This finding comes on the heels of announcement by the captain who discovered the North Pacific garbage patch that he has found another mass of floating plastic in the South Pacific that could be as large as 1 million square miles, 1.5 times the size of Texas.