The Minderoo Foundation has released its latest Plastic Waste Makers Index (PWMI), which found that the world generated 6 million metric tons more single-use plastic waste in 2021 than it did in 2019.

The report found that recycling processes aren’t being scaled up at a fast enough rate to meet plastic production.

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The world is producing a record amount of single-use plastic waste, mostly made from polymers created from fossil fuels, despite global efforts to reduce plastic pollution and carbon emissions, according to a new report released Monday.

The second Plastic Waste Makers Index, compiled by the philanthropic Minderoo Foundation, found the world generated 139 million metric tons of single-use plastic waste in 2021, which was 6 million metric tons more than in 2019, when the first index was released.

The report found the additional plastic waste created in those two years equates to nearly one 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) more for every person on the planet and was driven by demand for flexible packaging like films and sachets.

In recent years, governments around the world have announced policies to reduce the volume of single-use plastic, banning products like single-use straws, disposable cutlery, food containers, cotton swabs, bags and balloons.

In July, California became the first US state to announce its own targets — including a drop of 25% in the sale of plastic packaging by 2032. In December, the UK extended its list of banned items to include single-use trays, balloon sticks and some types of polystyrene cups and food containers. Bans are also in place in the European Union, Australia and India, among other places.

But the report found that recycling isn’t scaling up fast enough to deal with the amount of plastic being produced, meaning that used products are far more likely to be dumped in landfills, on beaches and in rivers and oceans than to make it into recycling plants.

Hilary Whiteman, CNN, February 5, 2023.

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