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. 2017 Jul 19;3(7):e1700782.
doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782. eCollection 2017 Jul.

Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made

Free PMC article

Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made

Roland Geyer et al. Sci Adv. .
Free PMC article


Plastics have outgrown most man-made materials and have long been under environmental scrutiny. However, robust global information, particularly about their end-of-life fate, is lacking. By identifying and synthesizing dispersed data on production, use, and end-of-life management of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives, we present the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured. We estimate that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) as of virgin plastics have been produced to date. As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1. Product lifetime distributions for the eight industrial use sectors plotted as log-normal probability distribution functions (PDF).
Note that sectors other and textiles have the same PDF.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2. Global production, use, and fate of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives (1950 to 2015; in million metric tons).
Fig. 3
Fig. 3. Cumulative plastic waste generation and disposal (in million metric tons).
Solid lines show historical data from 1950 to 2015; dashed lines show projections of historical trends to 2050.

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