Folks, we have a plastic problem.
Every year 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans. “That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline in the world.” (National Geographic)
You may think that’s too big of a problem to tackle. Combine that number with the fact that only about 9% of plastic is recycled (DW) and you could start to want to throw in the towel. But let’s break down this big problem a little more.
93% of the plastic waste that ends up in the world’s oceans comes from 10 rivers on the planet. (Scientific American) These rivers are located in Asia and Africa where garbage collection is inefficient or even nonexistent. These areas also tend to be areas where there is little public awareness about the problems trash poses. (DW)
How is this good news?
When it comes to stemming some of the plastic tide before it reaches our oceans, we have a place to start. These are areas where hundreds of millions of people live. Imagine if we could educate communities and build infrastructures for waste management in these regions.
Organizations, like Plastic Bank, are already hard at work using plastics recycling to help people make a sustainable income, educating locals about the harms of plastic pollution, and pushing a wave of large corporations to utilize these recycled plastics in their packaging and manufacturing!
What do we do with all this plastic?
Production of plastic took off around 1950. And since then, we have created 9.2 billion tons of plastic. Of that, 6.3 billion tons never made it to the recycling bin. (National Geographic)
Now, the eyes of the world are starting to turn on this problem. Large companies, including Nestlé, Volvo, and SC Johnson among many others are using recycled plastics. The market for recycled plastics is growing! In 2025, the recycled plastic market is estimated to be worth $54.57 Billion USD. (Hexa Research)
Consumer consciousness and interest in using recycled materials are having an impact on the practices of large corporations.
Not to mention, small scale recycling businesses are popping up around the globe; giving discarded plastics a new life! Organizations, like Precious Plastic, are helping lead this small scale revolution in plastics recycling and artisan manufacturing!
So yes, we have a plastics problem. But there are thousands of people and organizations who are working to tackle this problem from all angles!