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How Much Plastic is Produced Each Year?

Since the Invention of Polymer

Plastic as a new form of material is invented in 1907 in the U.S. The features of plastic are apparent: flexible, easy to dispose of, cheap to manufacture, and stable chemical property. Soon, plastics supplanted paper, porcelain, metal in different areas in 1930. Disposal plastic products such as cups, tableclothes and containers were popular in the Western market.

Plastic Usage by Years

As shown in the graph, the plastic use starts from small. Nevertheless, it grows rapidly in 1990. Taking only 15 years, the plastic production doubled.  Except there is a small decline in 1975 and a sudden drop in 2010, overall, the production rate is increasing faster than ever. How much plastic is produced each year? The number exceed 300 million tons in 2010 and hits 400 million tons in 2015. Equivalently, the plastic usage per capita is almost 1 tonne.

The plastic waste production per capita by countries ranking from the biggest are Kuwait, Guyana, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, the United States.

What can we do to save our planet?

Plastics are one of the most commonly used materials. It is not easy to decay and bio-degraded by natural microbes. Furthermore, plastic waste pours into rivers and oceans; or sits in city corners and burnt as fuel in power generators. Without human intervention, plastics are persistent and will be a long term social and environmental problem.

We can have a second thought before using plastic products. Also, recycling and reusing plastic are a must. In many countries, plastic recycling regulations are already implementing, however, not effectively. Collection and size reduction are 2 important steps for recycling. The collection is simple to understand and basically sort by their categories. Refer to this article on how to sort your plastic waste based on resin number.

Why do we need volume reduction?

All kinds of plastic waste can be recycled and reused by different ways. But many plastic products are currently not recycled due to the lack of incentive to invest in the mini shredding machines, complete recycling line and collection systems required.

Other than return-in shops collect plastic bottles and containers, some recycling points offer free plastic collection. However, the majority of plastic waste is discarded in trash bins and curbside. As a result, recycling plants cannot obtain sufficient plastic waste. Fewer recyclates produced from recycling plants, so fewer plastic manufacturers use recyclates but instead use more of resin.

However, if the waste plastic goes through an initial compaction process, then the plastic briquettes are easy to transport and to break down by logistics and recycling plants. Therefore, it becomes a high-value product to produce plastic recyclates and pellets.

How much plastic is produced each year? The data is scary. Instead of relying on government grants, nowadays cutting-technologies like industrial shredder and plastic washing machines can maximize the potential of recycling plastics. As the trend of plastic waste is rocketing, we can capture this business opportunity to benefit from the massive plastic waste.