Plastic has a big carbon footprint, accounting for 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Made of oil, gas, and coal, plastic generates heat-trapping gases at every stage of their life cycle.  The extraction and transportation of fuels, refining, and manufacturing are greenhouse-gas intensive. Plastic even emits traces of methane and ethylene when exposed to sunlight, and incineration releases all the stored carbon in the plastic into the atmosphere, along with other air pollutants.

And because plastic doesn’t decay, it doesn’t ever stop polluting. Humans have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950, and to complicate the situation further, the vast majority of plastic is not actually getting recycled. A profound amount is ending up in the ocean, with an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastics entering the ocean yearly. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California,  is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. And, a recent study on microplastic pollution in oceans has found that the problem has been grossly underestimated. 

In 2019, a study published in Nature found that the amount of plastic could triple in 2060 if we do nothing about it. Find a Plastic Footprint calculator here and 15 ways to shrink your footprint here

In May 2022, a report “The Real Truth About the U.S. Plastic Recycling Rate” documented a recycling rate of 5-6% for post-consumer plastic waste in the U.S. for 2021. The per capita generation of platic waste has increased by 263% since 1980, the report said.

Join the reuse revolution here and learn about 10 simple steps you can take to move closer to zero waste.


There are 21,000 pieces of plastic in the ocean for each person on Earth

By Michael Birnbaum 03/08/23
A new study found far more plastic in global oceans than previously believed — and the amount is doubling every six years....
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Microplastics are polluting the ocean at a shocking rate

By Matt Simon 03/08/23
Some 11 billion pounds of plastic particles are blanketing the surface alone. But a new study points to hope—if countries act now....
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Less plastic or more recycling – nations split ahead of treaty talks

By Joe Lo 02/22/23
Ahead of talks on a new plastics treaty, nations are split over whether to target reductions in the amount of plastic that is produced or just to try and stop it from polluting land and…
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The plastic train wreck should be a wake-up call

Thanks to a mountain of deadlines a mile high, I haven't yet been able to focus as much attention on the East Palestine train derailment as I'd like, but two things were very clear to…
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The Coming Chemical Boom

Shale gas fueled a boom in the drilling industry and has provided cheaper fuel, displacing dirtier coal to generate electricity. It’s also feeding a spinoff industry in chemicals. Shell is building a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant…
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Join the Reuse Revolution

10 simple steps you can take to move closer to zero waste and reduce single-use plastic pollution
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Derailed train carried chemical used to make ‘the worst’ of the plastics

By James Bruggers 02/08/23
Scientists say PVC is trouble for people and the environment throughout its lifecycle, from manufacturing to disposal, and is almost never recycled.
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Home Compostable Plastics Are Too Good to Be True

By Katherine Martinko 01/23/23
Composting is a bit like alchemy. You put food scraps into a bin and, with the help of some busy microorganisms and insects, you end up with rich, usable soil. Converting trash to treasure is…
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‘Advanced’ Recycling of Plastic Using High Heat and Chemicals Is Costly and Environmentally Problematic, A New Government Study Finds

By James Bruggers 01/19/23
The plastics industry’s quest to solve the problem of plastic waste through so-called “advanced” recycling—using chemical additives and sometimes extremely high heat to turn waste back into new plastics—is costly and comes with significant environmental…
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Tonnes Of Airborne Microplastics Drop Onto Cities Every Year

By Laurie Winkless 12/15/22
Whether you’re talking about the environment or news headlines, it’s becoming clear that microplastics are everywhere. These three stories: “Synthetic fibers discovered in Antarctic sea ice”, “Blue whales may ingest 10 mil. pieces of microplastic…
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How Bad Are Microplastics? An Expert Weighs In.

By Julia Rothman 12/09/22
A recent study revealed that each of us might be.....
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Democrats Have a New Plan to Fight Plastic Pollution

By Joseph Winters 12/05/22
As international negotiators began hammering out the details of a global plastics treaty last week, legislators in the United States were busy unveiling a domestic policy to address the plastic pollution crisis.
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A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies Hardcover – October 27, 2022

It’s falling from the sky and in the air we breathe. It’s in our food, our clothes, and our homes. It’s microplastic and it’s everywhere—including our own bodies. Scientists are just beginning to discover how…

Beyond Plastics

Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of college students to build a vibrant…

Plastic Proliferation Threatens the Climate on a Global Scale

The plastic pollution crisis that overwhelms our oceans is also a significant and growing threat to the Earth’s climate. At current levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global…

Alaska Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE-Alaska) Webinar

Plastics have become an everyday part of our lives, including the many unintended consequences of plastic production, use, and disposal. Chemicals added to plastics – to make them stronger, more flexible, or UV resistant –…

The fundamental links between climate change and marine plastic pollution

Plastic pollution and climate change have commonly been treated as two separate issues and sometimes are even seen as competing. Here we present an alternative view that these two issues are fundamentally linked. Primarily, we…

How do Microplastics Affect Our Health?

The use of plastic is one of the conveniences of modern life, but in recent years microplastic contamination has become an emerging global concern. Microplastics ––plastic particles measuring less than 5mm ––are everywhere ––from the…

Microplastics and human health

The ubiquity of microplastics in the global biosphere raises increasing concerns about their implications for human health. Recent evidence indicates that humans constantly inhale and ingest microplastics; however, whether these contaminants pose a substantial risk…

Plastics pose threat to human health

Plastics contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that threaten human health. An authoritative new report, Plastics, EDCs, & Health, from the Endocrine Society and the IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), presents a…

Breaking the Plastic Wave: Top Findings for Preventing Plastic Pollution

First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

New state and local laws permanently banning plastic bags will attempt to force a habit change among local consumers and retailers. According to Forbes, nearly 350 cities in 25 states now require the use of…

MacRebur: The Plastic Road Company

MacRebur’s mission is to help solve the waste plastic epidemic and the poor quality of roads we drive on around the world today. Our innovative solution involves processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration…

Plastic Footprint Calculator

If you are wondering what your yearly plastic consumption is, check out the plastic footprint calculator

A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health

The distribution and abundance of microplastics into the world are so extensive that many scientists use them as key indicators of the recent and contemporary period defining a new historical epoch: The Plasticene. However, the…

Drowning in plastic: Visualising the world’s addiction to plastic bottles

In a setback for environmental groups, California lawmakers early Saturday morning ended the 2019 legislative session without passing two bills that would have been the most ambitious effort in the nation to reduce the massive…

BBC Plastics Watch

Resources, education, and solutions all about plastic.

How plastics contribute to climate change

They generate heat-trapping gases at every stage of their life cycle.

Mapping the Flow of the World’s Plastic Waste

The first plastic material, Bakelite, was invented in 1907. It made its way into everything you can imagine: telephones, chess pieces, Chanel jewelry, and electric guitars.

Parley for the Oceans

Parley for the Oceans addresses major threats towards our oceans, the most important ecosystem of our planet. We believe the power for change lies in the hands of the consumer – given we all have a…

Plastic & Health

Despite being one of the most pervasive materials on the planet, plastic and its impact on human health is poorly understood. Human exposure to it grows with increasing plastic production and use. Research into the…

A Whopping 91 Percent of Plastic Isn’t Recycled

Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons—most of it in disposable products that end up as trash. If that seems…

Public health impact of plastics: An overview

Plastic, one of the most preferred materials in today's industrial world is posing serious threat to environment and consumer's health in many direct and indirect ways. Exposure to harmful chemicals during manufacturing, leaching in the…


Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America’s dirty secret

By Bennett Murray   06/17/19  
What happens to your plastic after you drop it in a recycling bin?
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G-20 urges ‘voluntary action’ on marine plastic crisis but fails to agree on common approach

By Simon Denyer   06/16/19  
Environment ministers from the Group of 20 on Sunday recognized an urgent need to tackle the marine plastic litter that’s choking the world’s oceans, but failed to agree on concrete measures or targets to phase…
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New California Bill Could Revolutionize How the U.S. Tackles Plastic Pollution

By Tara Lohan   06/14/19  
A sweeping “circular economy” bill in the California legislature aims to drastically reduce plastic waste and boost domestic recycling.
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Analysis: global plastics boom fueled 2018 CO2 emissions rise

By Lauri Myllyvirta   06/14/19  
The world added more non-fossil power last year than ever before, but energy demand rose by even more
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A simple online system that could end plastic pollution

By Justin Calderon   06/13/19  
Poorer communities in the developing world bear the brunt of plastic pollution. Could a new digital payment system spark a clean-up revolution?
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Canada to Announce Ban on Single Use Plastics

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce a plan to ban single use plastics by 2021 at a press conference in Montreal Monday, the Associated Press reports.NoneAn announcement on specific prohibited items will wait until…
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Delta Does (and Does Not) Ditch Plastic; Why It’s All Good

By Tina Casey   05/24/19  
As the urgency of climate action comes into sharper focus, airlines have found themselves on the front lines of the battle over carbon emissions. They have also become a bellwether for innovative solutions.
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‘It’s Raining Plastic’: Researchers Find Microscopic Fibers in Colorado Rain Samples

By Brett WaltonWhen Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National…
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Scientists find 414 million pieces of plastic debris on remote islands. That’s even worse than it sounds.

By Yasemin Saplakoglu   05/21/19  
The amount of plastic pollution previously thought to exist around the world may be a dramatic underestimate — because the vast majority of plastic pollution may actually be below the surface.
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Plastics Threaten Global Climate at a Massive Scale During Each Point of Lifecycle, Report Finds

Plastic pollution across the globe is suffocating our planet and driving Earth toward catastrophic climatic conditions if not curbed significantly and immediately, according to a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL).…
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From making it to managing it, plastic is a major contributor to climate change

Plastic is polluting oceans, freshwater lakes and rivers, food and us — but it's also a major contributor to global climate change, warns a new report. Scientists, policymakers and consumers are increasingly aware of the…
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Are Plastic, Paper Or Reusable Bags Better For The Environment?

By Kate Bratskeir   05/14/19  
If you bring a tote bag to the grocery store, you’re not necessarily saving the planet.
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Baby fish have started eating plastic. We haven’t yet seen the consequences

By Laura Parker   05/01/19  
Newborn fish are mistaking tiny bits of trash for food. If they die, there’ll be fewer big fish—and that could rattle the food chain.
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One Thing You Can Do: Know Your Plastics

By Eduardo Garcia and Henry Fountain   04/24/19  
Ever notice those recycling symbols, the triangles with the numbers inside, on plastic packaging and containers? I always assumed they meant the plastic was recyclable. But that’s not necessarily the case.
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4 Ways to Cut Plastic’s Growing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Phil McKenna   04/15/19  
Every stage of plastic's life cycle, from fossil fuel extraction to disposal, produces greenhouse gases. A new study looked at ways to lower the toll.
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Plastic Bags, or Paper? Here’s What to Consider When You Hit the Grocery Store

By Brad Plumer   03/29/19  
The decision by New York State to ban single-use plastic bags from retail stores makes it a good time to revisit everyone’s favorite environmental quandary: paper or plastic?
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Hawaii bills push 1st state ban on plastics in restaurants

By Audrey McAvoy   03/19/19  
Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.
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As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling

By Michael Corkery   03/16/19  
Recycling, for decades an almost reflexive effort by American households and businesses to reduce waste and help the environment, is collapsing in many parts of the country.
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The Toxic Consequences of America’s Plastics Boom

By Zoë Carpenter   03/14/19  
Thanks to fracking, petrochemicals giants are poised to make the plastic pollution crisis much, much worse.
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Every Animal Pulled From the Deepest Part of the Ocean Had Plastic in Its Gut

By Joe McCarthy and Erica Sanchez   02/28/19  
Stories of whales, turtles, and seabirds with guts filled with plastic have become increasingly common. Recently, a team of scientists wanted to determine the extent of plastic pollution and its effects on animals by investigating…
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Investing in Solutions to Stop Ocean Plastic

Plastic waste in the ocean represents one of the most urgent and fast-growing ecological challenges of our time. Scientists estimate that more than half of the 8 million metric tons of plastic that flows into…
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Plastic In The Ocean: Billions Of Microplastic Nanoparticles Found In Scallop Intestines In Just Hours

By Kashmira Gander   12/03/18  
Scientists at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. exposed scallops to the nanoplastic carbon-radiolabeled nanopolystyrene in a laboratory setting. After six hours, they found billions of tiny particles had built up throughout their bodies.
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How plastics waste recycling could transform the chemical industry

By By Thomas Hundertmark, Mirjam Mayer   12/01/18  
Reusing plastics waste could become an important driver of profitability for chemical companies. Incumbent players need to make the right moves now to tap this opportunity.
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How did disposable products ever become a thing?

By Mark Miodownik   11/30/18  
So how did disposable products ever become a thing? The answer is that we had to be taught to like throwing things away, to accept it as normal. The story of how this happened is…
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Recycled Plastic Is Being Used To Repave Roads Around The World

By Joe McCarthy   11/15/18  
Roads made from recycled plastic can cut down on plastic pollution.
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An innovative solution for recycled plastics is hybrid asphalt for building roads

An innovative solution for all the plastic that is choking the world’s landfills is to recycle it and use it to build roads.
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‘A line in the sand’ – Global Commitment to eliminate plastic pollution at the source

A Global Commitment to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source has been signed by 250 organisations including many of the world’s largest packaging producers, brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and…
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Where does your recycled plastic go? Perhaps into future highways.

By Ashley Halsey   10/28/18  
What should we do with all that plastic choking the world’s landfills? Why not recycle it and use it to build roads? Bound together with plastic polymers, the asphalt will be cheaper and last longer…
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5 takeaways from the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

By Lauren Phipps   10/28/18  
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the signatories to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment — collectively responsible for producing 20 percent of all plastic packaging globally and represent the full value chain for plastics — have…
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5 takeaways from the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

By Lauren Phipps   10/28/18  
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, the signatories to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment — collectively responsible for producing 20 percent of all plastic packaging globally and represent the full value chain for plastics — have…
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Why the plastic straw ban has nothing to do with straws at all

By Hilary Brueck   10/22/18  
That problem won't be fixed by forgoing a straw, but environmentalists say letting go of a single piece of plastic could be a first step in a much-needed larger behavior change.
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Could seaweed be the solution to our growing plastic problem?

One 25 year old has designed a potential alternative to the billions of plastic sachets used in Indonesia and other developing countries.
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Vermont now has nation’s broadest single-use plastics ban

By Elizabeth Gribkoff   10/07/18  
Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law on Monday that gives Vermont the distinction of having the most comprehensive restrictions on single-use plastic of any state in the U.S.
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Giving up plastic is not as hard as it sounds, when you have a plan

By Lindsay Bird   10/07/18  
Advice from two women who've gone (relatively) plastic-free. Single-use plastic (SUP) is everywhere, which means trying to reduce the amount you use can get really overwhelming, really quickly. But as the movement to ditch many…
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Here’s A List Of Every City In The US To Ban Plastic Bags, Will Your City Be Next?

By Trevor Nace   09/20/18  
Here, we've collected the 349 known cities, counties, and states to have, in some way, banned or taxed plastic bag use.
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No time to waste: What plastics recycling could offer

By Thomas Hundertmark, Chris McNally, Theo Jan Simons, and Helga Vanthournout   09/01/18  
Plastics waste is hurting the chemical industry as well as the environment. By taking the lead on recycling, chemical players could add a new dimension to the industry and help solve the problem.
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Bio-based plastics can reduce waste, but only if we invest in both making and getting rid of them

By Danny Ducat   08/16/18  
Bio-based plastics are a promising option for reducing plastic waste, but scaling them up will require substantial investments, both in making them and in special facilities for disposing of them.
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Recycling Breaks Down: US Struggles to Keep Plastic From the Dump

By Noreen O’Donnell   08/13/18  
China has implemented a new recycling policy called National Sword, halting all imports of recycled materials. The U.S. was sending about 40 percent of its recycled goods to china before the policy's implementation which means…
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Designing the Death of a Plastic

By Xiaozhi Lim   08/06/18  
Decades ago, synthetic polymers became popular because they were cheap and durable. Now, scientists are creating material that self-destructs or breaks down for reuse on command.
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Recycled Plastic Waste Creates Roads

By Patrick J. Kiger   07/13/18  
A few years ago, engineer Toby McCartney was working in southern India with a charity that aided pickers who worked at landfill sites harvesting reusable items and selling them. McCartney discovered that plastic waste they…
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What’s the Real Price of Getting Rid of Plastic Packaging?

By Richard Grey   07/06/18  
More than 78 million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced worldwide every year by an industry worth nearly $198 billion. Just a fraction of that is recycled while the vast majority is thrown away. Plastic…
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New report offers global outlook on efforts to beat plastic pollution

By UN Environment Programme   06/05/18  
Released today, a new report from UN Environment finds a surging momentum in global efforts to address plastic pollution.
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Earth Day 2018: Everything you need to know

By Morgan Winsor   04/21/18  
People around the world will come together this weekend to celebrate the planet and to take action to protect it.  Here's everything you need to know about Earth Day 2018.
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Ghana is building Roads out of Plastic Bags

The bags are shredded and mixed with sand, creating a new form of asphalt that is resilient and long lasting which also uses fewer natural resources to make.
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Earth Day 2018 Aims to End Plastic Pollution

By Earth Day Network   02/21/18  
Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide on April 22, announced that Earth Day 2018 will focus on mobilizing the world to End Plastic Pollution, including creating support for a global effort to…
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Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem

Produced by Alison Trowsdale, Tom Housden and Becca Meier   12/10/17  
Marine life is facing "irreparable damage" from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste which ends up in the oceans each year, the United Nations has warned.
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Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made

By Roland Geyer and Others   07/19/17  
A world without plastics, or synthetic organic polymers, seems unimaginable today, yet their large-scale production and use only dates back to ~1950. Although the first synthetic plastics, such as Bakelite, appeared in the early 20th…
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A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’

By Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor   06/28/17  
Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments.
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Paving roads with recycled plastic

Paving roads with recycled plastic.
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