Approximately 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide—and that number is expected to increase by 20% in the next four years, according to an exclusive report from the Guardian. It gets worse. Less than half of the 580 billion plastic bottles purchased in 2016 were recycled and only 7% were turned into new bottles. The majority ended up in oceans or landfills. Research indicates the oceans will contain more pounds of plastic than pounds of fish by 2050. And environmentalists are beginning to warn that plastic bottles could present as great a threat to the environment as climate change. “[Plastic] pollutes every natural system and an increasing number of organisms on planet Earth," a member of Surfers Against Sewage says.
Most plastic bottles are used for drinking water. Coca-Cola alone makes more than 100 billion plastic bottles per year, or about 3,400 per second, according to a Greenpeace analysis. Environmentalists want companies like Coca-Cola to use more recycled plastic in their bottles; the top three drink companies average just 6.6% of recycled plastic per bottle. They complain that recycled plastic doesn't allow them to have shiny, clear bottles and that the supply of quality recycled plastic isn't large enough. By the end of the decade, more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold every year. Something will have to change for the recycling system to keep up. Read the full story here. (Read more plastic stories.)