Worldwide plastic waste predicted to almost triple by 2060, report finds

·2 min read

Story at a glance

  • A new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says the amount of global plastic waste will reach 1,230 metric tons by 2060.

  • More than half of that plastic waste produced will end up in a landfill, and only a fifth will be successfully recycled, according to the report.

  • If aggressive action is not taken to curb plastic consumption, plastic leakage into the Earth’s rivers, lakes and oceans could double, further harming wildlife and the environment.

The amount of plastic waste produced around the world will nearly triple by 2060, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

Plastic waste is expected to increase from 460 metric tons produced in 2019 to 1,230 by 2060 without aggressive action to curb plastic consumption. More than half of that projected plastic waste will end up in landfills and only a fifth with be recycled, according to the report.

“If we want a world that is free of plastic pollution, in line with the ambitions of the United Nations Environment Assembly, we will need to take much more stringent and globally co-ordinated action,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said in a statement. “This report proposes concrete policies that can be implemented along the lifecycle of plastics that could significantly curb – and even eliminate – plastic leakage into the environment.”

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Report crafters predict the amount of recycled plastic waste will jump from 9 percent in 2019 to 17 percent in 2060 and the portion of plastic that end up in uncontrolled dumpsites, burned in open pits or leaking into land or bodies of water instead of landing in a waste management system will drop from 22 percent to 15 percent in 2060.

However, about 20 percent of plastic waste will continue to be incinerated, according to the report.

Most of the future plastic waste will be made in developing countries in Africa and Asia, according to the report, although the report notes that at current rates, OECD countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States will produce more plastic waste per person than non-OECD countries by 2060.

Worldwide plastic leakage to the environment is expected to double to 44 metric tons a year while the build-up of plastics in lakes, rivers and oceans will more than triple, the study says.

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