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Plastics are made from petroleum a limited, nonrenewable resource. It
is predicted that by the year 2040, the Earth's usable petroleum
reserves will have been depleted. (56)
In 1987, the U.S. used almost 1 billion barrels of oil, just to make
When buried, some plastic materials may last for 700 years.
(Manufacturers add inhibitors that resist the decomposition process
necessary to break down the plastic.) (51)
If the Pilgrims had six-packs, we'd still have the plastic rings from
them today. (21)
Over 46,000 pieces of plastic debris float on every square mile of
Although polystyrene foam is completely non-biodegradable, it is
If you lined up all the polystyrene foam cups made in just one day,
they would circle the earth. (20)
Plastics are the fastest growing share of the U.S. waste stream
accounting for 5% of household throwaways. Every American uses almost
200 pounds of plastic in a year - 60 pounds of it for packaging. (51)
Americans use 4 million plastic bottles every hour! Yet only 1 bottle
out of 4 is recycled. (41)
Americans make enough low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic every
year to shrink-wrap the state of Texas. Most of it ends up in
Plastics are part of the waste stream: although they account for only
8% of the waste by weight, they occupy about 20% of the volume in a
landfill due to their low bulk density. (22)
In 1988 we used 2 billion pounds of HDPE just to make bottles for
household products. That's about the weight of 900,000 Honda Civics.
Over 16 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually in the U.S.
and about 2.2% o of all plastics is currently recycled. (62)
In the United States, some 3.7 billion PET soft drink bottles
(representing 38%) sold in 1992 were recycled, up from 2.8 billion in
1991. This surpasses the plastic industry's goal of recycling 25% of
all types of plastic bottles by 1995. (38)
By the year 2000, PET bottle use in the U.S. is expected to reach 4.7
billion pounds, an increase of 143% since 1994. (29)
Since the introduction of PET containers in the late 1970's, the
industry has reduced the weight of PET in 2-liter bottles from 67 grams
on average to about 48 grams; a 28% reduction. (38)
About nine billion plastic bottles are produced annually in the U.S.,
about two-thirds of which end up in landfills or incinerators. Most of
the rest go to Wellman Inc. a recycling facility in South Carolina.
Wellman annually recycles about 2.4 billion plastic bottles into a
polyester fiber known as Fortrel EcoSpun, which ends up in active wear.
It takes 5 recycled two-liter PET bottles to make enough fiberfill for
a ski jacket. (37)
It takes 1,050 recycled milk jugs to make a 6-foot plastic park bench.