the Plastic problem
Plastic is ubiquitous. You'll find it in nearly every part of your life - in the synthetic fabrics in your clothes, packaging for your food, even in the computer or phone you're using to read this page.
Globally, at least 348 million metric tons of plastic are produced each year, worth over a trillion dollars. Much of this is designed to be used only once, often with a useful life of only a few minutes. Countless products including grocery bags, product packaging, straws, and conventional rain ponchos fall into this category.
Plastics can cause significant environmental damage when improperly disposed of. Only 9% of all the plastic ever produced has been recycled. When plastics are not recycled, they often end up in landfills or waterways. In fact, 73% of beach litter is plastic.
The primary feedstock for plastics is petroleum, which means that the plastics industry consumes a significant quantity of oil. In fact, it accounts for about 8% of the world's oil demand and this is expected to rise to 20% by 2050. To put this in perspective, the plastics industry requires more oil than the entire aviation industry!
The plastics industry is also responsible for significant carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change. Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions occur primarily during petroleum extraction and refining. As much as 6kg of carbon dioxide are emitted is consumed per kilogram of plastic produced.
*The above statistics were provided by a 2017 report released at Davos by the World Economics Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and consultancy firm McKinsey and can be found here.