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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 dispersed 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 landfills 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.
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Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made
Roland Geyer,
* Jenna R. Jambeck,
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.
A world without plastics, or synthetic organic polymers, seems un-
imaginable today, yet their large-scale production and use only dates
back to ~1950. Although the first synthetic plastics, such as Bakelite,
appeared in the early 20th century, widespread use of plastics outside
of the military did not occur until after World War II. The ensuing
rapid growth in plastics production is extraordinary, surpassing most
other man-made materials. Notable exceptions are materials that are
used extensively in the construction sector, such as steel and cement
Instead, plasticslargest market is packaging, an application whose
growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use
containers. As a result, the share of plastics in municipal solid waste
(by mass) increased from less than 1% in 1960 to more than 10% by
2005 in middle- and high-income countries (3). At the same time,
global solid waste generation, which is strongly correlated with gross
national income per capita, has grown steadily over the past five dec-
ades (4,5).
The vast majority of monomers used to make plastics, such as eth-
ylene and propylene, are derived from fossil hydrocarbons.None of the
commonly used plastics are biodegradable. As a result, they accumu-
late, rather than decompose, i n landfills or the natural environment (6).
The only way to permanently eliminate plastic waste is by destructive
contamination of the natural environment with plastic waste is a grow-
ing concern. Plastic debris has been found in all major ocean basins (6),
with an estimated 4 to 12 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic waste
generated on land entering the marine environment in 2010 alone
(3). Contamination of freshwater systems and terrestrial habitats is
also increasingly reported (79), as is environmental contamination with
synthetic fibers (9,10). Plastic waste is now so ubiquitous in the
environment that it has been suggested as a geological indicator of the
proposed Anthropocene era (11).
We present the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics
ever made by developing and combining global data on production,
use, and end-of-life fate of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and addi-
tives into a comprehensive material flow model. The analysis includes
thermoplastics, thermosets, polyurethanes (PURs), elastomers, coatings,
and sealants but focuses on the most prevalent resins and fibers: high-
density polyethylene (PE), low-density and linear low-density PE,
polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyvinylchloride (PVC), poly-
ethylene terephthalate (PET), and PUR resins; and polyester, poly-
amide, and acrylic (PP&A) fibers. The pure polymer is mixed with
additives to enhance the properties of the material.
Global production of resins and fibers increased from 2 Mt in 1950 to
380 Mt in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4%
(table S1), roughly 2.5 times the CAGR of the global gross domestic
product during that period (12,13). The total amount of resins and fi-
bers manufactured from 1950 through 2015 is 7800 Mt. Half of this
3900 Mtwas produced in just the past 13 years. Today, China alone
accounts for 28% of global resin and 68% of global PP&A fiber pro-
duction (1315). Bio-based or biodegradable plastics currently have
a global production capacity of only 4 Mt and are excluded from this
analysis (16).
We compiled production statistics for resins, fibers, and additives
from a variety of industry sources and synthesized them according to
type and consuming sector (table S2 and figs. S1 and S2) (1224). Data
on fiber and additives production are not readily available and have
typically been omitted until now. On average, we find that nonfiber
plastics contain 93% polymer resin and 7% additives by mass. When
including additives in the calculation, the amount of nonfiber plastics
(henceforth defined asresins plus additives) manufactured since 1950
increases to 7300 Mt. PP&A fibers add another 1000 Mt. Plasticizers,
fillers, and flame retardants account for about three quarters of all ad-
ditives (table S3). The largest groups in total nonfiber plastics produc-
tion are PE (36%), PP (21%), and PVC (12%), followed by PET, PUR,
and PS (<10% each). Polyester, most of which is PET, accounts for
70% of all PP&A fiber production. Together, these seven groups ac-
count for 92% of all plastics ever made. Approximately 42% of all non-
fiber plastics have been used for packaging, which is predominantly
composed of PE, PP, and PET. The building and construction sector,
which has used 69% of all PVC, is the next largest consuming sector,
using 19% of all nonfiber plastics (table S2).
We combined plastic production data with product lifetime distri-
butions for eight different industrial use sectors, or product categories,
to model how long plastics are in use before they reach the end of their
useful lifetimes and are discarded (22,2529). We assumed log-
normal distributions with means ranging from less than 1 year, for
packaging, to decades, for building and construction (Fig. 1). This is
a commonly used modeling approach to estimating waste generation
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California,
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.
College of Engineering, University
of Georgia, 412 Driftmier Engineering Center, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
Sea Edu-
cation Association, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
*Corresponding author. Email:
Geyer, Jambeck, Law Sci. Adv. 2017; 3: e1700782 19 July 2017 1of5
on July 20, 2017 from
for specific materials (22,25,26). A more direct way to measure plastic
waste generation is to combine solid waste generation data with waste
characterization information, as in the study of Jambeck et al. (3).
However, for many countries, these data are not available inthe detail
and quality required for the present analysis.
We estimate that in 2015, 407 Mt of primary plastics (plastics
manufactured from virgin materials) entered the use phase, whereas
302 Mt left it. Thus, in 2015, 105 Mt were added to the in-use stock.
For comparison, we estimate that plastic waste generation in 2010 was
274 Mt, which is equal to the independently derived estimate of
275 Mt by Jambeck et al. (3). The different product lifetimes lead to
a substantial shift in industrial use sector and polymer type between
plastics entering and leaving use in any given year (tables S4 and S5
and figs. S1 to S4). Most of the packaging plastics leave use the same
year they are produced, whereas construction plastics leaving use were
produced decades earlier, when production quantities were much
lower. For example, in 2015, 42% of primary nonfiber plastics produced
(146 Mt) entered use as packaging and 19% (65 Mt) as construction,
whereas nonfiber plastic waste leaving use was 54% packaging (141 Mt)
and only 5% construction(12 Mt). Similarly, in 2015, PVC accounted
for 11% of nonfiber plastics production (38 Mt) and only 6% of non-
fiber plastic waste generation (16 Mt).
By the end of 2015, all plastic waste ever generated from primary
plastics had reached 5800 Mt, 700 Mt of which were PP&A fibers.
There are essentially three different fates for plastic waste. First, it
can be recycled or reprocessed into a secondary material (22,26).
Recycling delays, rather than avoids, final disposal. It reduces future
plastic waste generation only if itdisplaces primary plastic production
(30); however, because of its counterfactual nature, this displacement
is extremely difficult to establish (31). Furthermore, contamination
and the mixing of polymer types generate secondary plastics of limited
or low technical and economic value. Second, plastics can be destroyed
thermally. Although there are emerging technologies, such as pyrolysis,
which extracts fuel from plastic waste, to date, virtually all thermal
destruction has been by incineration, with or without energy recovery.
The environmental and health impacts of waste incinerators strongly
depend on emission control technology, as well as incinerator design
and operation. Finally, plastics can be discarded and either contained
in a managed system, such as sanitary landfills, or left uncontained in
open dumps or in the natural environment.
We estimate that 2500 Mt of plasticsor 30% of all plastics ever
producedare currently in use. Between 1950 and 2015, cumulative
waste generation of primary and secondary (recycled) plastic waste
amounted to 6300 Mt. Of this, approximately 800 Mt (12%) of plastics
Fig. 1. Product lifetime distributions for the eight industrial use sectors plotted as log-normal probability distribution functions (PDF). Note that sectors other
and textiles have the same PDF.
Fig. 2. Global production, use, and fate of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives (1950 to 2015; in million metric tons).
Geyer, Jambeck, Law Sci. Adv. 2017; 3: e1700782 19 July 2017 2of5
on July 20, 2017 from
have been incinerated and 600 Mt (9%) have been recycled, only 10%
of which have been recycled more than once. Around 4900 Mt60%
of all plastics ever producedwere discarded and are accumulating in
landfills or in the natural environment (Fig. 2). Of this, 600 Mt were
PP&A fibers. None of the mass-produced plastics biodegrade in any
meaningful way; however, sunlight weakens the materials, causing
fragmentation into particles known to reach millimeters or micro-
meters in size (32). Research into the environmental impacts of these
microplasticsin marine and freshwater environments has accelerated
in recent years (33), but little is known about the impacts of plastic
waste in land-based ecosystems.
Before 1980, plastic recycling and incineration were negligible. Since
then, only nonfiber plastics have been subject to significant recycling
efforts. The following results apply to nonfiber plastic only: Global recy-
cling and incineration rates have slowly increased to account for 18 and
24%, respectively, of nonfiber plastic waste generated in 2014 (figs. S5
and S6). On the basis of limited available data, the highest recycling
rates in 2014 were in Europe (30%) and China (25%), whereas in the
United States, plastic recycling has remained steady at 9% since 2012
(12,13,3436). In Europe and China, incineration rates have increased
over time to reach 40 and 30%, respectively, in 2014 (13,35). However,
in the United States, nonfiber plastics incineration peaked at 21% in
1995 before decreasing to 16% in 2014 as recycling rates increased, with
discard rates remaining constant at 75% during that time period (34).
Waste management information for 52 other countries suggests that in
2014, the rest of the world had recycling and incineration rates similar
to those of the United States (37). To date, end-of-life textiles (fiber
products) do not experience significant recycling rates and are thus
incinerated or discarded together with other solid waste.
Primary plastics production data describe a robust time trend
throughout its entire history. If production were to continue on this
curve, humankind will have produced 26,000 Mt of resins, 6000 Mtof
PP&A fibers, and 2000 Mt of additives by the end of 2050. Assuming
consistent use patterns and projecting current global waste manage-
ment trends to 2050 (fig. S7), 9000 Mt of plastic waste will have been
recycled, 12,000 Mt incinerated, and 12,000 Mt discarded in landfills
or the natural environment (Fig. 3).
Any material flow analysis of this kind requires multiple assump-
tions or simplifications, which are listed in Materials and Methods,
and is subject to considerable uncertainty; as such, all cumulative results
are rounded to the nearest 100 Mt. The largest sources of uncertainty
are the lifetime distributions of the product categories and the plastic
incineration and recycling rates outside of Europe and the United States.
Increasing/decreasing the mean lifetimes of all product categories by
1 SD changes the cumulative primary plastic waste generation (for 1950 to
2015) from 5900 to 4600/6200 Mt or by 4/+5%. Increasing/decreasing
current global incineration and recycling rates by 5%, and adjusting the
time trends accordingly, changes the cumulative discarded plastic waste
from 4900 (for 1950 to 2015) to 4500/5200 Mt or by 8/+6%.
The growth of plastics production inthe past 65 years has substan-
tially outpaced any other manufactured material. The same properties
that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applicationsdurability
and resistance to degradationmake these materials difficult or im-
possible for nature to assimilate. Thus, without a well-designed and
tailor-made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans
are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale,
in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all
major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet. The relative
advantages and disadvantages of dematerialization, substitution, reuse,
material recycling, waste-to-energy, and conversion technologies must
be carefully considered to design the best solutions to the environmental
challenges posed by the enormous and sustained global growth in
plastics production and use.
Plastic production
The starting point of the plastic production model is global annual
pure polymer (resin) production data from 1950 to 2015, published
by the Plastics Europe Market Research Group, and global annual
Fig. 3. Cumulative plastic waste generation and disposal (in million metric tons). Solid lines show historical data from 1950 to 2015; dashed lines show projections
of historical trends to 2050.
Geyer, Jambeck, Law Sci. Adv. 2017; 3: e1700782 19 July 2017 3of5
on July 20, 2017 from
fiber production data from 1970 to 2015 published by The Fiber Year
and Tecnon OrbiChem (table S1). The resin data closely follow a
second-order polynomial time trend, which generated a fit of R
0.9968. The fiber data closely follow a third-order polynomial time
trend, which generated a fit of R
= 0.9934. Global breakdowns of total
production by polymer type and industrial use sector were derived
from annual market and polymer data for North America, Europe,
China, and India (table S2) (12,13,1924). U.S. and European data
are available for 2002 to 2014. Polymer type and industrial use sector
breakdowns of polymer production are similar across countries
and regions.
Global additives production data, which are not publicly available,
were acquired from market research companies and cross-checked for
consistency (table S3) (17,18). Additives data are available for 2000 to
2014. Polymer type and industrial use sector breakdowns of polymer
productionand the additives to polymer fraction were both stable over
the time period for which data are available and thus assumed con-
stant throughout the modeling period of 19502015. Any errors in
the early decades were mitigated by the lower production rates in those
years. Additives data were organized by additive type and industrial
use sector and integrated with the polymer data. P
(t) denotes the
amount of primary plastics (that is, polymers plus additives) produced
in year tand used in sector i(fig. S1).
Plastic waste generation and fate
Plastics use was characterized by discretized log-normal distributions,
(j), which denotes the fraction of plastics in industrial use sector i
used for jyears (Fig. 1). Mean values and SDs were gathered from pub-
lished literature (table S4) (22,2529). Product lifetimes may vary sig-
nificantly across economies and also across demographic groups,
which is why distributions were used and sensitivity analysis was con-
ducted with regard to mean product lifetimes. The total amount of
primary plastic waste generated in year twas calculated as PW (t)=
j¼1PiðtjÞLTDiðjÞ(figs. S3 and S4). Secondary plastic waste
generated in year twas calculated as the fraction of total plastic waste that
was recycled kyears ago, SW (t)=[PW(tk)+SW(tk)][RR (tk)],
where kis the average use time of secondary plastics and RR (tk)is
the global recycling rate in year tk. Amounts of plastic waste discarded
and incinerated are calculated as DW(t)=[PW(t)+SW(t)DR(t)and
IW(t) = [PW(t) + SW(t)] IR(t), with DR(t) and IR(t) being the global
discard and incineration rates in year t(fig. S5). Cumulative values at
time Twere calculated as the sum over all T1950 years of plastics mass
production. Examples are cumulative primary production CPiðTÞ¼
t¼1950 PiðtÞand cumulative primary plastic waste generation,
t¼1950 PWðtÞ(Fig. 3).
Recycling, incineration, and discard rates
Time series for resin, that is, nonfiber recycling, incineration, and dis-
card rates were collected separately for four world regions: the United
States, the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland, China, and the rest of
the world. Detailed and comprehensive solid waste management data
for the United States were published by the U.S. Environmental Pro-
tection Agency dating back to 1960 (table S7) (34). European data
were from several reports by PlasticsEurope, which collectively cover
1996 to 2014 (12,13,38). Chinese data were synthesized and recon-
ciled from the English version of the China Statistical Yearbook, trans-
lations of Chinese publications and government reports, and
additional waste management literature (35,36,3941). Waste man-
agement for the rest of the world was based on World Bank data (37).
Time series for global recycling, incineration, and discard rates (fig. S5)
were derived by adding the rates of the four regions weighted by their
relative contribution to global plastic waste generation. In many world
regions, waste management data were sparse and of poor quality. For
this reason, sensitivity analysis with regard to waste management rates
was conducted.
The resulting global nonfiber recycling rate increased at a constant
0.7% per annum (p.a.) between 1990 and 2014. If this linear trend is
assumed to continue, the global recycling rate would reach 44% in
2050. The global nonfiber incineration rate has grown more unevenly
but, on average, increased 0.7% p.a.between 1980 and 2014. Assuming
an annual increase of 0.7% between 2014 and 2050 yielded a global
incineration rate of 50% by 2050. With those two assumptions, global
discard rate would decrease from 58% in 2014 to 6% in 2050 (fig. S7).
The dashed lines in Fig. 3 are based on those assumptions and there-
fore simply forward projections of historical global trends and should
not be mistaken for a prediction or forecast. There is currently no sig-
nificant recycling of synthetic fibers. It was thus assumed that end-of-
life textiles are incinerated and discarded together with all other
municipal solid waste.
Supplementary material for this article is available at
fig. S1. Global primary plastics production (in million metric tons) according to industrial use
sector from 1950 to 2015.
fig. S2. Global primary plastics production (in million metric tons) according to polymer type
from 1950 to 2015.
fig. S3. Global primary plastics waste generation (in million metric tons) according to industrial
use sector from 1950 to 2015.
fig. S4. Global primary plastics waste generation (in million metric tons) according to polymer
type from 1950 to 2015.
fig. S5. Estimated percentage of global (nonfiber) plastic waste recycled, incinerated, and
discarded from 1950 to 2014 [(12,13,3442) and table S7].
fig. S6. Annual global primary and secondary plastic waste generation TW (t), recycling RW (t),
incineration IW (t), and discard DW (t) (in million metric tons) from 1950 to 2014.
fig. S7. Projection of global trends in recycling, incineration, and discard of plastic waste from
1980 to 2014 (to the left of vertical black line) to 2050 (to the right of vertical black line).
table S1. Annual global polymer resin and fiber production in million metric tons (1215).
table S2. Share of total polymer resin production according to polymer type and industrial use
sector calculated from data for Europe, the United States, China, and India covering the period
20022014 (12,13,1924).
table S3. Share of additive type in global plastics production from data covering the period
20002014 (17,18).
table S4. Baseline mean values and SDs used to generate log-normal product lifetime
distributions for the eight industrial use sectors used in this study (22,2529).
table S5. Global primary plastics production and primary waste generation (in million metric
tons) in 2015 according to industrial use sector.
table S6. Global primary plastics production and primary waste generation (in million metric
tons) in 2015 according to polymer type/additive.
table S7. Additional data sources for U.S. plastics recycling and incineration.
table S8. Complete list of data sources.
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Acknowledgments: We thank C.-J. Simon and R. Nayaran f or providing polymer productio n
data and G.L. Maho ney for designin g Fig. 2. We especially thank I. Creel man and R. Song
for data collecti on and model impleme ntation, E. Smith for assistance in compiling the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and China solid waste management data, S. Wang for
researching Ch ina plastic wast e management and tr anslation of art icles, J. Chamberlain
for researchi ng additives, and I. MacAdam-Somer for researching synthetic fibers. This
work benefitted from helpful discussions with T. Siegler and C. Rochman and comments
from two anonymous reviewers. Funding: This work was conducted within the Mar ine
Debris Working Group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synt hesis,
University of California, Santa Barbara, with su pport from Ocean Conservancy. R.G. was
supported by the NSF Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems
grant #1335478. Author contributions: R.G. led the re search design, data collection, model
development, ca lculations, interpretation of results, and writing of the manuscript;
J.R.J. contrib uted to research design, data collection, model development, and int erpretation
of results; K.L.L. contributed to research desi gn, analysis and interpretatio n of results,
and writing of the manuscript. Com peting interes ts: The authors declare that they have
no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data needed to eval uate
the conclusion s in the paper are pre sent in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials.
Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the author s.
Submitted 9 March 2017
Accepted 16 June 2017
Published 19 July 2017
Citation: R. Geyer, J. R. Jambeck, K. L. Law, Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made.
Sci. Adv. 3, e1700782 (2017).
Geyer, Jambeck, Law Sci. Adv. 2017; 3: e1700782 19 July 2017 5of5
on July 20, 2017 from
Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made
Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782
(7), e1700782.3Sci Adv
This article cites 17 articles, 2 of which you can access for free
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Supplementary resource (1)

... Finally, f sed was derived for an entire river segment on the basis of the travel time (L in s) through the river segment and the sedimentation rate extracted from Besseling et al. 19 (Fig. 6 and Supplementary Information Section 7). Furthermore, we used a negative compound interest approach shown in equation (1) to assure that microplastics lost in the beginning of the segment cannot be lost afterwards. For rivers, f sed is calculated as follows: ...
... Here, l is the river segment length in m and v is the average flow velocity in the river segment (in m s −1 ). Consequently, higher L corresponds with longer residence time in a river segment, which causes higher plastic retention in the river segment for equation (1). For f acc we used 10% as a default value, meaning that 10% of the microplastics in the sediment will be buried in rivers across all polymers. ...
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Microplastics are a ubiquitous contaminant of natural waters, and a lot of field monitoring is currently performed. However, what is missing so far is a general understanding how emissions of microplastics are linked to environmental exposure, especially on larger geographic scales such as countries. Here we coupled a high-resolution microplastic release model with a fate model in rivers and lakes and parameterized it for Switzerland on a country scale to predict masses of microplastics in each river section for seven different polymers. The results show that catchment characteristics, for example, distribution of releases within the catchment, location and size of lakes or river connections, are as important as polymer properties such as density. There is no simple linear function of microplastic retention within a catchment in dependency of river length to the outlet. Instead, we found that different catchments cover a wide range of retained fractions for microplastics. Consequently, we argue that the availability and use of spatially distributed release data and performing modelling on high spatial resolution is of importance when estimating concentrations of microplastics in large areas such as countries.
... However, plastic waste generation has also increased at a similar rate (OECD 2022). The management of this large amount of waste has so far been ineffective, with 79 wt.% ending up in landfills or in the natural environment, both on land and at sea (OECD 2022;Geyer et al., 2017). ...
... The plastic packaging sector is the largest contributor to plastic waste generation, responsible for almost half of all plastic waste (Geyer et al., 2017). Plastics are well suited for the packaging industry due to their lightweight, reducing transportation cost and the amount of end-of-life waste (Ncube et al., 2021). ...
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Multi-material layered plastic films are used in the food packaging industry due to their excellent properties; however they cannot be mechanically recycled. In this study, a two-stage hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) process is proposed and tested for chemical recycling of a two-layer film made of LLDPE-PET. Experimental results showed that after a first subcritical stage at 325 °C, 94% of terephthalic acid (TPA) is recovered from the PET fraction as a solid and 47% of ethylene glycol in the aqueous phase. The unconverted PE was then used as feedstock for a subsequent supercritical HTL stage at 450 °C for 90 min, achieving mass yields of 47% and 29% in a naphtha-gasoline oil and in an alkane-rich gas, respectively. In conclusion, this work proved that a sequential HTL procedure can be used for chemical recycling of multilayer plastics, allowing the recovery of PET monomers to be recycled back to the PET industry and a paraffinic oil and hydrocarbon-rich gas phase that could be used as feedstock for steam cracking to produce virgin materials.
... It has been reported that a total of more than 8 billion tons of plastics have been synthesized and produced since the 1950s [1]. One of the important causes of plastic pollution is the formation of plastic debris with small sizes, including microplastics and nanoplastics, as categorized by their sizes [2,3]. ...
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Recently, the transgenerational toxicity of nanoplastics has received increasing attention. Caenorhabditis elegans is a useful model to assess the transgenerational toxicity of different pollutants. In nematodes, the possibility of early-life exposure to sulfonate-modified polystyrene nanoparticle (PS-S NP) causing transgenerational toxicity and its underlying mechanisms were investigated. After exposure at the L1-larval stage, transgenerational inhibition in both locomotion behavior (body bend and head thrash) and reproductive capacity (number of offspring and fertilized egg number in uterus) was induced by 1–100 μg/L PS-S NP. Meanwhile, after exposure to 1–100 μg/L PS-S NP, the expression of germline lag-2 encoding Notch ligand was increased not only at the parental generation (P0-G) but also in the offspring, and the transgenerational toxicity was inhibited by the germline RNA interference (RNAi) of lag-2. During the transgenerational toxicity formation, the parental LAG-2 activated the corresponding Notch receptor GLP-1 in the offspring, and transgenerational toxicity was also suppressed by glp-1 RNAi. GLP-1 functioned in the germline and the neurons to mediate the PS-S NP toxicity. In PS-S NP-exposed nematodes, germline GLP-1 activated the insulin peptides of INS-39, INS-3, and DAF-28, and neuronal GLP-1 inhibited the DAF-7, DBL-1, and GLB-10. Therefore, the exposure risk in inducing transgenerational toxicity through PS-S NP was suggested, and this transgenerational toxicity was mediated by the activation of germline Notch signal in organisms.
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Orchids are the integral part of wonderful natural heritage of Northeastern region. Mining severely alters the landscape, eliminates existing vegetation, destroys the genetic soil profile, displaces the habitat and to some extent permanently changes the general topography of the area mined. Presently many spectacular and economically important orchid species of Assam are facing danger of extinction owing to destruction of habitat due to mining. Present study was conducted taxonomic exploration of orchid, evaluation of habitat ecology for reorganization of their occurrence and impact of open cast mining in North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) covers forest areas. Soil moisture and organic carbon percentage were comparatively low in the forest sites proximity to the mining areas with high acidic value. Presently 96 numbers of orchid species were recorded, among them eighteen epiphytic orchids were found in entire forests and fifteen species in terrestrial habit. Maximum number of species was found in Upper Dihing RF, which the part of rain forest Dihing Patkai National Park. Status of orchid flora revealed that 19 species were under rare, 15 vulnerable, 11 endangered and 4 in critically endangered category those reflect the area as an disturbing indication orchid habitat.
Ocean warming (OW) caused by anthropogenic activities threatens ocean ecosystems. Moreover, microplastic (MP) pollution in the global ocean is also increasing. However, the combined effects of OW and MPs on marine phytoplankton are unclear. Synechococcus sp., the most ubiquitous autotrophic cyanobacterium, was used to evaluate the response to OW + MPs under two warming scenarios (28 and 32 °C compared to 24 °C). The enhancement of the cell growth rate and carbon fixation under OW were weakened by MP exposure. Specifically, OW + MPs reduced carbon fixation by 10.9 and 15.4% at 28 and 32 °C, respectively. In addition, reduction in photosynthesis pigment contents of Synechococcus sp. under OW was intensified under OW + MPs, supporting the lower growth rate and carbon fixation under OW + MPs. Transcriptome plasticity (the evolutionary and adaptive potential of gene expression in response to changing environments) enabled Synechococcus sp. to develop a warming-adaptive transcriptional profile (downregulation of photosynthesis and CO2 fixation) under OW. Nevertheless, the downregulation of photosynthesis and CO2 fixation were alleviated under OW + MPs to increase responsiveness to the adverse effect. Due to the high abundances of Synechococcus sp. and its contributions to primary production, these findings are important for understanding the effects of MPs on carbon fixation and ocean carbon fluxes under global warming.
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The atmosphere can transport large quantities of microplastics (MPs) and disperse them throughout the globe to locations inaccessible by many other transport mechanisms. Meteorological events, such as tropical cyclones, have been proven to pick up and transport particulate matter, however, how hurricanes influence the transport and deposition of atmospheric MPs is still poorly understood. In this study, we collected samples of atmospheric fallout from Hurricane Larry as it passed over Newfoundland, Canada in September 2021. During the storm peak, 1.13 x 10⁵ particles m⁻² day⁻¹ were deposited. Back-trajectory modelling and polymer type analysis indicate that those MPs may have been ocean-sourced as the hurricane passed over the garbage patch of the North Atlantic Gyre. This study identifies for the first time the influence of North Atlantic hurricanes on the atmospheric transport of ocean-sourced MPs, providing new insight to one, potential key mechanism controlling remote terrestrial MPs occurrence.
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Recycling materials from end-of-life products has the potential to create environmental benefit by displacing more harmful primary material production. However, displacement is governed by market forces and is not guaranteed; if full displacement does not occur, the environmental benefits of recycling are reduced or eliminated. Therefore, quantifying the true “displacement rate” caused by recycling is essential to accurately assess environmental benefits and make optimal environmental management decisions. Our 2016 article proposed a market-based methodology to estimate actual displacement rates following an increase in recycling or reuse. The current article demonstrates the operation, utility, and challenges of that methodology in the context of the U.S. aluminum industry. Sensitivity analyses reveal that displacement estimates are sensitive to uncertainty in price elasticities. Results suggest that 100% displacement is unlikely immediately following a sustained supply-driven increase in aluminum recycling and even less likely in the long term. However, zero and even negative displacement are possible. A variant of the model revealed that demand-driven increases in recycling are less likely than supply-driven changes to result in full displacement. However, model limitations exist and challenges arose in the estimation process, the effects of which are discussed. We suggest implications for environmental assessment, present lessons learned from applying the estimation methodology, and highlight the need for further research in the market dynamics of recycling.
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The recycling of material resources lies at the heart of the industrial ecology (IE) metaphor. The very notion of the industrial ecosystem is motivated by the idea that we should learn from natural ecosystems how to " close the loop. " Recycling is not just central to IE, it is part of everyday life. Unfortunately, how the IE community and the public at large think about recycling includes several misconceptions that have the potential to misguide environmental assessments, policies, and actions that deal with recycling and thus undermine its environmental potential. One misconception stems from na¨ıve assumptions regarding recycled material displacing primary production. Two others assert the environmental advantages of recycling material multiple times, or at least in a closed loop. A final misconception is the assumption that the distinction between closed and open recycling loops is generally useful. This article explains why these misconceptions are flawed, discusses the implications, and presents an alternative set of principles to better harness the potential environmental benefits of closing material loops.
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Good decision-making about how we manage the waste we create is one of the most important contributions humanity can make to reducing its impact on the natural world. The Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO) is being released at a critical moment, one where the world is considering a new regime to keep global warming to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures, and, at the same time, discussing what the future development agenda will look like and how it will be funded. The GWMO is the first comprehensive, impartial and in-depth assessment of global waste management. It reflects the collective body of recent scientific knowledge, drawing on the work of leading experts and the vast body of research undertaken within and beyond the United Nations system. The six chapters inform the reader about trends, provide an analysis on governance and financial mechanisms, and offer policy advice on the way forward. The main document targeting professionals is accompanied by two summary documents, one for decision makers and the other for the public more broadly. This GWMO offers a profound analysis of the enormous potential better waste management provides to assist in meeting the sustainability challenges ahead.
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The informal sector is active in the collection, processing and trading of recyclable materials in urban China. Formal waste management organisations have established pilot schemes for source separation of recyclables, but this strategy is still in its infancy. The amounts of recyclables informally picked out of the municipal solid waste stream are unknown as informal waste workers do not record their activities. This article estimates the size and significance of the current informal recycling system with a focus on the collection of recyclables. A majority of the reviewed literature detects that official data is displaying mainly 'municipal solid waste collected and transported', whereas less information is available on 'real' waste generation rates at the source. Based on a literature review the variables, the 'number of informal waste workers involved in collection activities', the 'amounts collected daily per informal collector' and the 'number of working days' are used to estimate yearly recyclable amounts that are informally diverted from municipal solid waste. The results show an interval of approximately 0.56%-0.93% of the urban population or 3.3-5.6 million people involved in informal waste collection and recycling activities in urban China. This is the equivalent to estimated informal recycling rates of approximately 17-38w/w% of the municipal solid waste generated. Despite some uncertainties in these assessments, it can be concluded that a significant share of recyclables is collected and processed by informal waste workers.
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Background: While the use of plastic materials has generated huge societal benefits, the ‘plastic age’ comes with downsides: One issue of emerging concern is the accumulation of plastics in the aquatic environment. Here, so-called microplastics (MP), fragments smaller than 5 mm, are of special concern because they can be ingested throughout the food web more readily than larger particles. Focusing on freshwater MP, we briefly review the state of the science to identify gaps of knowledge and deduce research needs. State of the science: Environmental scientists started investigating marine (micro)plastics in the early 2000s. Today, a wealth of studies demonstrates that MP have ubiquitously permeated the marine ecosystem, including the polar regions and the deep sea. MP ingestion has been documented for an increasing number of marine species. However, to date, only few studies investigate their biological effects. The majority of marine plastics are considered to originate from land-based sources, including surface waters. Although they may be important transport pathways of MP, data from freshwater ecosystems is scarce. So far, only few studies provide evidence for the presence of MP in rivers and lakes. Data on MP uptake by freshwater invertebrates and fish is very limited. Knowledge gaps: While the research on marine MP is more advanced, there are immense gaps of knowledge regarding freshwater MP. Data on their abundance is fragmentary for large and absent for small surface waters.Likewise, relevant sources and the environmental fate remain to be investigated. Data on the biological effects of MP in freshwater species is completely lacking. The accumulation of other freshwater contaminants on MP is of special interest because ingestion might increase the chemical exposure. Again, data is unavailable on this important issue. Conclusions: MP represent freshwater contaminants of emerging concern. However, to assess the environmental risk associated with MP, comprehensive data on their abundance, fate, sources, and biological effects in freshwater ecosystems are needed. Establishing such data critically depends on a collaborative effort by environmental scientists from diverse disciplines (chemistry, hydrology, ecotoxicology, etc.) and, unsurprisingly, on the allocation of sufficient public funding.
Survey's the issues typically raised in discussions of sustainability and plastics Discusses current issues not covered in detail previously such as ocean litter, migration of additives into food products and the recovery of plastics Covers post-consumer fate of plastics on land and in the oceans, highlighting the environmental impacts of disposal methods Details toxicity of plastics, particularly as it applies to human health Presents a clear analysis of the key plastic-related issues including numerous citations of the research base that supports and contradicts the popularly held notions.
Studies about microplastics in various environments highlighted the ubiquity of anthropogenic fibers. As a follow-up of a recent study that emphasized the presence of man-made fibers in atmospheric fallout, this study is the first one to investigate fibers in indoor and outdoor air. Three different indoor sites were considered: two private apartments and one office. In parallel, the outdoor air was sampled in one site. The deposition rate of the fibers and their concentration in settled dust collected from vacuum cleaner bags were also estimated. Overall, indoor concentrations ranged between 1.0 and 60.0 fibers/m³. Outdoor concentrations are significantly lower as they range between 0.3 and 1.5 fibers/m³. The deposition rate of the fibers in indoor environments is between 1586 and 11,130 fibers/day/m² leading to an accumulation of fibers in settled dust (190–670 fibers/mg). Regarding fiber type, 67% of the analyzed fibers in indoor environments are made of natural material, primarily cellulosic, while the remaining 33% fibers contain petrochemicals with polypropylene being predominant. Such fibers are observed in marine and continental studies dealing with microplastics. The observed fibers are supposedly too large to be inhaled but the exposure may occur through dust ingestion, particularly for young children.
The rise of plastics since the mid-20th century, both as a material element of modern life and as a growing environmental pollutant, has been widely described. Their distribution in both the terrestrial and marine realms suggests that they are a key geological indicator of the Anthropocene, as a distinctive stratal component. Most immediately evident in terrestrial deposits, they are clearly becoming widespread in marine sedimentary deposits in both shallow- and deep-water settings. They are abundant and widespread as macroscopic fragments and virtually ubiquitous as microplastic particles; these are dispersed by both physical and biological processes, not least via the food chain and the ‘faecal express’ route from surface to sea floor. Plastics are already widely dispersed in sedimentary deposits, and their amount seems likely to grow several-fold over the next few decades. They will continue to be input into the sedimentary cycle over coming millennia as temporary stores – landfill sites – are eroded. Plastics already enable fine time resolution within Anthropocene deposits via the development of their different types and via the artefacts (‘technofossils’) they are moulded into, and many of these may have long-term preservation potential when buried in strata.
Anthropogenic debris contaminates marine habitats globally, leading to several perceived ecological impacts. Here, we critically and systematically review the literature regarding impacts of debris from several scientific fields to understand the weight of evidence regarding the ecological impacts of marine debris. We quantified perceived and demonstrated impacts across several levels of biological organization that make up the ecosystem and found 366 perceived threats of debris across all levels. Two hundred and ninety-six of these perceived threats were tested, 83% of which were demonstrated. The majority (82%) of demonstrated impacts were due to plastic, relative to other materials (e.g., metals, glass) and largely (89%) at suborganismal levels (e.g., molecular, cellular, tissue). The remaining impacts, demonstrated at higher levels of organization (i.e., death to individual organisms, changes in assemblages), were largely due to plastic marine debris (>1 mm; e.g., rope, straws, and fragments). Thus, we show evidence of ecological impacts from marine debris, but conclude that the quantity and quality of research requires improvement to allow the risk of ecological impacts of marine debris to be determined with precision. Still, our systematic review suggests that sufficient evidence exists for decision makers to begin to mitigate problematic plastic debris now, to avoid risk of irreversible harm.
Plastic debris in the marine environment is widely documented, but the quantity of plastic entering the ocean from waste generated on land is unknown. By linking worldwide data on solid waste, population density, and economic status, we estimated the mass of land-based plastic waste entering the ocean. We calculate that 275 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million MT entering the ocean. Population size and the quality of waste management systems largely determine which countries contribute the greatest mass of uncaptured waste available to become plastic marine debris. Without waste management infrastructure improvements, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.