We Depend on Plastic. Now We’re Drowning in It.

Roughly 40 percent of the now more than 448 million tons of plastic produced every year is disposable, much of it used as packaging intended to be discarded within minutes after purchase. Production has grown at such a breakneck pace that virtually half the plastic ever manufactured has been made in the past 15 years. [emphasis: mine] Last year the Coca-Cola Company, perhaps the world’s largest producer of plastic bottles, acknowledged for the first time just how many it makes: 128 billion a year. Nestlé, PepsiCo, and others also churn out torrents of bottles.

…The waste that clogs Manila’s beaches and waterways…. Much of it consists of sachets—tear-off packets that once held a single serving of shampoo, toothpaste, coffee, condiments, or other products. They are sold by the millions to poor people like Siena and his family, who can’t afford to buy more than one serving at a time. Sachets blow around Manila like leaves falling from trees. They’re not recyclable, so no waste picker will retrieve them. Crispian Lao, a member of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, says, “This segment of packaging is growing, and it has become a real challenge for solid waste management.”

…When Greenpeace cleaned the Freedom Island beach, it posted a tally of the brand names of the sachets its volunteers had collected. Nestlé ranked first, Unilever second. Litterbugs aren’t the only ones at fault, says Greenpeace’s Abigail Aguilar: “We believe that the ones producing and promoting the use of single-use plastics have a major role in the whole problem.”

…Johnson & Johnson is switching from plastic back to paper [emphasis: mine] stems on its cotton swabs.

We Depend on Plastic. Now We’re Drowning in It.

Repeat after me: Straws aren’t the problem.  The increase in single use plastic products and plastic packaging is.


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