Ten statistics on global plastic addiction and its consequences

This is the number of tons of plastic produced globally each year, according to ta Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). From 2000 to 2019 this figure more than doubled, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. If no action is taken, global production will nearly triple by 2060, reaching 1.231 million tonnes of plastic.

>> Read more: Plastic recycling in focus as countries meet in Paris for treaty talks

The maximum life of nearly two-thirds of the plastic produced each year, according to the OECD. Predominantly used for food packaging (31%) and textiles and consumer goods (20%), these plastics often end up as waste after one or a few uses.

This is the number of tonnes of plastic waste generated worldwide in 2019. The proportion of waste varies greatly between different countries and groups: 21% comes from the United States and 28% from other OECD member states, while 19% from China and 5% from India. The remaining 27% comes from the rest of the world.

>> Read more: Tackling Plastic Pollution: We Can’t Recycle Our Way Out

The average amount of plastic waste produced per person per year in France, according to Eurostat, is slightly higher than the European average (35 kg). This figure is equivalent to 1,070 bottles with a capacity of 500ml. In total, around 30 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced in the EU every year.

The percentage of plastic waste recycled globally in 2019, according to the OECD. Half of the remaining plastic waste ends up in landfills, 19% is incinerated and 22% is thrown into nature or burned in the open air. Overall, 22 million plastic waste ends up in nature every year.

The contribution of plastics to global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, according to the OECD. In addition to generating pollution, plastic contributes significantly to climate change. Most of these emissions come from the production and processing of fossil fuels, as more than 99% of plastic comes from oil, gas and coal. If their use continues to increase as expected, plastic-related emissions will account for 15 percent of the global carbon budget by 2050, according to estimates by Human Rights Watch.

>> Read more: Plastic recycling in focus as countries meet in Paris for treaty talks

The estimated number of people in developing countries who die each year from diseases related to poor waste management, particularly from toxic fumes emitted by burning plastic waste, according to a study by Christian aid agency Tearfund with based in the UK.

The amount of plastic waste, in tons, that accumulated in aquatic environments between 1970 and 2019, according to the OECD 109 million tons in rivers and lakes and 30 million tons in the oceans. It is estimated that the equivalent of a plastic garbage truck ends up in the ocean every minute.

The number of marine mammals that die each year from ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in debris, according to various studies. In addition to nets and plastic bags, the ocean is teeming with tiny fragments of microplastic less than 5 mm in diameter resulting from the degradation of bags, bottles, tires, cigarette butts, clothing fibers and more. Blue whales ingest 10 million microplastics a day, according to a study published in Nature in 2022.

The number of grams of plastic humans ingest each week, equivalent to a credit card, according to an Australian study published in 2019.

(This is a translation of the French original.)

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