Globally, only 9% of the plastic we've ever produced has been recycled.
The other 91% has ended up in landfills or incinerated or scattered throughout the environment. This includes huge floating islands in the ocean, partly composed of plastic byproducts from the manufacturing process.
Around 150 million tons of plastic is floating in the world's oceans and researchers say this will surpass the weight of all the fish in the sea. Microplastics have entered the food chain through leaching of hazardous chemicals in are water systems and our soil.
What you can do
Around one fifth of our household waste is made up of plastic from food packaging.
If you have been regularly putting it into recycling, remember not all gets recycled by waste management companies or the recycling plants.
Much of it is dumped in land fills, or shipped to other poorer countries for their landfills which pollute their soil! There are different kinds of plastic made from different chemical blends some of which are toxic.
The first step to driving down our reliance on plastic is for every concerned consumer to understand that more than 90% of the plastic we have ever produced is now near-permanently polluting our world. And that number is going up, not down, as is our overall production.
What others have done
Starting point for sustainable solutions
Innovation and investment in plastics alternatives will lead to totally biodegradable consumer goods packaging in grocery stores and markets soon.
In the meantime, we all need to wake up to the fact that we cannot recycle our way out of our plastic problem.
Plastic Waste Challenge at home
Take on a challenge and check over the week how much plastic are you collecting from all the every day things you buy.
Take a look at it and think can you apply any 9Rs principle (see our Concept page).
How many products are recyclable safely?
Check the brands you often buy and do they have a recycle or eco labeling?
This can vary from country to country or regionally across the Globe and can be very confusing. Each country has its own environmental standards agency for vetting companies and manufacturers.
Do you know how your waste when separated is recycled or repurposed?
Is the waste management company where you live closing the loop so waste does not get dumped or shipped elsewhere?
Call for change
There are many organisations campaigning to minimise the use of plastic and replace it with alternatives for long term sustainable solutions.
Take you own local steps in the "What you can do" and "Checklist" sections and join campaigns and call for new solutions locally and globally.