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Plastic is synthetic or semi-synthetic amorphous solid material derived from oil and natural gas. The accumulation of such materials in the environment, which affects the ecosystems, is plastic waste or plastic pollution.
Globally rapid development in urbanization, population, and industrialization has led to a rise in plastic waste generation. The plastic waste generation rate is directly proportional to the urbanization rate and economic prosperity.
Global plastic production is more than 300 million metric tons per year, a massive increase from the 1.5 million metric tons produced in 1950. Since 1950, more than nine billion metric tons of plastic materials have been manufactured, with most of this produced in the previous decade. The improper disposal of plastic waste is a serious problem as certain plastic items can take up to 500 years to decompose.
If we want to overcome the problem of plastic waste, we must reduce plastic consumption and promote awareness about plastic recycling.
In this chart, we see sector-wise worldwide plastic waste generation. Primary plastics are most commonly used in packaging, accounting for 46% of total plastic waste generated. The textiles sector is the second-largest contributor, with 14.9%.
The United States is by far the world’s largest producer of plastic waste worldwide. The United States produced 42 million metric tonnes of plastic garbage in 2016. This was more than double the amount of food produced in China in 2016. United States plastic waste per capita accounts for an average of 130 kg per person. In 2018, China’s rubber and plastics products industry generated over 468 billion dollars in revenue, likely to remain constant in the following years, making it the largest producer of single-use plastic.
The total amount of littered or improperly discarded waste is referred to as mismanaged waste. Inadequately disposed waste is not formally handled and includes disposal in dumps or open, unmanaged landfills. The bar graphs represent the share of global mismanaged waste by the top ten countries.
A tremendous amount of plastic waste is mismanaged worldwide, particularly in areas where waste management infrastructure is inadequate. In numerous urban areas, the administration faces difficulties in handling plastic waste due to improper waste management. Some of the major problem caused by plastic waste is choking of drains, leaching on the ground and land water, infertile land, environmental hazards caused by burning indiscriminate, etc. Littering is a significant environmental issue; it gives an ugly look to a place. Single-use plastic objects, including cigarette butts, beverage bottles, and food wrappers, are the most typical waste items discovered on beaches. In numerous places, government-imposed prohibitions on single-use plastic products have resulted as a result of this. However, without additional policies and better plastic waste management, the plastic waste problem will worsen in the following decades.