According to The Independent “Humans have produced about 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic since 1950”.Researchers writing in the journal , Science Advances ,warned that if current trends continued some 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste would be in landfill sites or the natural environment by 2050.
Campaign groups suggest that the average person throws away the equivalent of 1,212 Coca Cola bottles or 4,600 plastic forks each year. Scientists from a number of Universities in a paper published in Science Advances state that “The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material”.
“The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications – durability and resistance to degradation-make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate.”
“Thus , without a well-designed and tailor- made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.”
In October 2014 shops in Scotland began charging 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. In the first year the number of plastic bags handed out in stores was slashed by 80%- the equivalent of 650million carriers. Scottish government research concludes that a reduction of 650 million bags means a net saving of more than 4000 tonnes of plastic and other materials each year.
MPs are now considering a 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste. Apparently the UK throws away 2.5 billion paper cups every year with less than 1% being recycled. The rest are incinerated or buried in landfill sites because they have an inner-lining made of plastic which paper mills struggle to remove. The Environment Audit Committee is calling on the Government to introduce a minimum 25p charge on disposable coffee cups to cut waste in the same way as the plastic bag levy. It seems that MPs are open to the idea but want to ensure that any levy would trigger a change in behaviour not merely an increase in price.
In our office we do our best to recycle as much as possible but these figures suggest we should be doing considerably more to protect our environment.