Monday, December 17, 2007

Plastic and the Environment: Plastic Waste Statistics

Statistics on Plastic Waste from the EPA:
  • The total amount of plastic in the municipal solid waste stream in 2006 was almost 30 million tons (a.k.a. nearly 60 billion pounds).
  • In 2006, the United States generated 14 million tons of plastic through containers and packaging.
  • The amount of plastic consumed as a percentage of total waste has increased from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 11.7 percent in 2006.
Soda Stats:
  • Americans drank approximately 14.7 billion cases of non-alcoholic beverages in 2004 (this includes both plastic and aluminum containers; note that aluminum cans are lined with plastic).
More Statistics:

12 comments:

Myshell... said...

Like your site, looking forward to more reading...Cheers!

vegetablej said...

Abominable statistics! I can't even stretch my mind around that much plastic in the garbage.Every year.

And the difference from 1960! I don't think people were living such a bad life in the 60's; and there was so much less plastic use. Why do we suddenly need everything hermetically sealed in plastic?

Sometimes I think we've been sold an idea that everything is more sanitary, and therefore better, if it's in plastic containers.I don't buy that. I prefer paper,glass, or wood, or something natural (re-usuable).

And think of all the chemicals that the plastics industry uses and must put into the air/water.

I seems like we are being swallowed up by a tidal wave of plastic; surely soon there's going to be no place to put it all. Why isn't industry developing alternative solutions, including re-fillable bottles.

And why isn't government taking some notice of this problem and doing something? It boggles the mind.

I think Body Shop re-fills up their containers, which are plastic, but they might be willing to fill up your own glass or other ones if you asked.

Sorry about the long comment. Just found your blog from a comment on No Impact Man; I'll be reading more of it. Thanks! :)

Laura said...

Thanks for these stats! They bring up two questions for me.
1) Why on earth are alluminum cans lined with plastic? I understand that this happens with canned veggies and such. Does it happen with soda too? So are we to assume that every 'can' of something is lined with plastic? I will guess at a couple reasons: The plastic lining makes the product slide out of the can easier. Like that is important enough, NOT! :) OR maybe the powers that be are trying to 'protect' us from the alluminum. Frying pan into the fire, that is.
2) Is plastic truly recyclable? I think that when people wash out a yogurt container and put it out for recycling they think that bit of plastic will come back as another yogurt container. I don't think that is the way it works. (I would love to hear what you know about this question in particular.) I gather that plastic containers can be 'recycled' to make other things; furniture, toothbrushes, fake wood, but they can't be recycled back into the same type of semi-ridgid food containers as they started out. How much milk jug wood furniture do we need anyway? Glass can be recycled over and over again and be made into the same useful containers that we actually need. Sounds like a better bet to me! :)

Laura said...

Laura,
Plastic doesn't recycle very well. It's possible to recycle some plastic so that it's reused as the same type of thing, but that has the problem that you have to mix new plastic with the recycled plastic.
So unless we find a way to reuse plastic as the same type of object, plastic recycling is always going to involve throwing away some plastic. It can reduce the amount of plastic that is thrown away, but the reduction is limited.
Laura :)

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Anonymous said...

Hey,

I love this blog and I want to stop buying plastic. Plastic has gotten ridiculous.

I buy aluminum cans as an alternative to plastic, but.... Why are aluminum cans lined with plastic? I am sure this is a relatively recent "improvement" in the aluminum industry. Is there anything we can do to encourage the aluminum can industry to STOP including plastic in their cans?

Save the planet - or what?

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Richard Yasger, Tacoma, WA said...

Aluminum cans are lined with plastic probably to create a barrier between the food/drink and a metal that doesn't stand up to corrosion very well, particularly acidic items such as tomato juice and soda. FDA regulations probably play into it too. Plastics are almost totally chemically inert, which makes them great for food packaging and horrible in the environment. Check out http://www.worldwithoutus.com/toc.html and read Chapter 9: Polymers are Forever. Weisman's book is a stellar work.

Anonymous said...

Where the plastic goes ??????

All unrecycled plastic goes to seas and creates large accumulations called 'plastic continents' . it can be as big as twice the size of Texas.

read further ''''''

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

Anonymous said...

Aluminum cans are lined with plastic because a typical Coca-Cola soda is about a 2 on the pH scale (rather acidic). The can would corrode from the inside out if they didn't line them.

balers said...

Try to turn the turntable using the screwdriver. It may require some force, but many times, this will break the jam.

sabkon wells said...

hi.thanks for shedding light on such critical matters. it was really inspiring. will be looking up for more updates on the post.

Plastic Storage Containers