Production of plastics around the world continues to increase, but recycling is lagging, according to new research from the Worldwatch Institute.
An article from Washington D.C.-based Worldwatch said 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, a 3.9-percent jump from 2012, the environmental group said.
The plastics industry is worth about $600 billion in annual sales each year. And the post-consumer recycling rate for Europe 2012, Worldwatch said, was 26 percent in Europe. The group also reports that 9 percent of the total plastic waste generated in the United States in 2012 was recycled.
Asia accounted for 45.6 percent of global plastics production in 2013 and China, alone, had 24.8 percent, the group said. North America held a 19.4-percent share and Europe and “the states emerging from the former Soviet Union” had 22.9 percent. The Middle East and Africa checked in with 7.3 percent and South America had 4.8 percent.
China, Worldwatch said, receives 56 percent of the recycled plastic imports worldwide, by weight. The article also indicates 10 million to 20 million tons of plastics end up in oceans each year.
Worldwatch calls itself an independent research institute devoted to environmental concerns. The article from is available for sale at http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org/.
The report also estimated that 4 percent of the petroleum consumed each year around the world is used to make plastics. Another 4 percent is used to power plastic manufacturing sites.