As of 2017, this study estimates that around 8,300 million metric tonnes of plastics have ever been produced; most of which has now exists in landfills or the environment; and only a small percentage has ever been recycled. Those in the naturally will not biodegrade in way that is safe for the environment.

Authors -Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law


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 dis- persed 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 land- fills 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.