According to many published resources, including National Geographic, 91% of plastics do NOT get recycled worldwide. Most of the plastic we place into our bins may or may not be recycled depending on where you live. It's astonishing and disappointing.
Since its creation in the 1950's, 8.3 billion metric tonnes of cumulative plastics have been produced - of which 6.3 billion metric tonnes have become plastic waste. It takes over 400 years for plastic to degrade. Depending on the type of plastic, it could take as long as 1,000 years.
We see plastic in our oceans and landfills...quite frankly it's everywhere. By mid century, it has been written (The Guardian) that there will be as much plastic in our oceans as there are fish. It's mind boggling to think of this disaster. 8 million metric tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans EVERY YEAR.
If we continue at this rate, National Geographic's research estimates there will be 12 billion metric tonnes of plastics in our landfills. I couldn't fathom this weight so I set out to Google what that would look like....I couldn't find it. Suffice to say that a baby humpback whale weighs 1 tonne.
Municipal waste accounts for approximately 10% of total waste produced worldwide.
The other waste comes from industrial, agricultural, medical, radioactive waste or sewage sludge.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Turkey and Chile are the worst countries at recycling - only 1%!
According to Global Citizen - "Germany, leads the pack with a 65% recycling rate. The country has gone to considerable lengths to standardize recycling containers throughout the entire country with color-coded containers that people adhere to. Germans enjoy recycling and the sense of civic virtue it bestows. A culture of environmental sustainability reigns in that country."
"Countries making the most improvement are Poland and Estonia. Poland is now recycling an astounding 886% more of its waste than it was at the start of millennium. Estonia has increased its recycling by 600% in the same period."
"Ireland has increased by 261%, and the UK by 250%. South Korea, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland have overall recycling rates above 50%. The US has an overall recycling rate of 35% and the average throughout the OECD is 34%."
A few more stats
(According to Blue Ocean, The Guardian, UNEP, National Geographic)
*Sweden throws only 1% of it's garbage in landfills
(that recycling program can be an entirely separate blog post!)
*China produces the largest amount of plastic waste in the world
*The US produces the most amount of plastic per capita
*Americans throw away 20 billion disposable diapers every year
* 20,000 plastic bottles are purchased around the world every second
If all of this garbage seems daunting, think of it this way....each person can make a difference on a daily basis with the choices we make. How important is that plastic water bottle? Do we really need to purchase laundry detergent in plastic containers? Is any of the plastic we buy able to be reused or repurposed instead of recycled?
Small steps lead to BIG changes.
Have you ever tried to do the groceries without buying anything wrapped in plastic?
It's almost impossible. But the less plastic we buy, the stronger the message we send to the manufacturers about their packaging.
Corn does not need to be wrapped in plastic wrap with a plastic tray.
Having a chat with your local officials about how your plastics get recycled is another good step. Putting pressure at every level of Gov't is important.
Countries that do exceptionally well, can teach those that aren't.
Recently our municipal Gov't thought it would be a good idea to hand out blue plastic bags to every household. Why? Because on windy days some of the recycling was thrown around and people complained. Why did someone think that adding more plastic to the problem would be a good idea? I can think of 5 different alternatives, including a biodegradable bag.
Why all this talk about plastics on a soap website? Because Lakeshore Harbour Soap has always and will always aim to eliminate the use of plastic packaging.
The soaps are wrapped in biodegradable wrap. The lip balms, deodorants and carpet refreshers are in paperboard containers. The creams, balms and liquid soaps are in glass containers.
While some of the caps are still plastic, these items can be reused and repurposed.
Hopefully we will get a hold of this problem for future generations.