Quantcast
Popular

1 Million Plastic Bottles Bought Every Minute, That's Nearly 20,000 Every Second

A new report highlights the astounding amount of plastic bottles humans go through and the environmental havoc it wreaks.

Citing figures from consumer market research company Euromonitor International, The Guardian reported that 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute—or about 20,000 per second—around the globe.


About 480 billion plastic bottles were purchased globally in 2016 but less than half gets recycled, meaning most of this waste ends up in our oceans and landfills. Even worse, the report notes that the world's increasing thirst for bottled beverages, especially in economically growing Asian countries, will bump these figures up another 20 percent, or 583.3 billion bottles, by 2021—fueling a crisis that experts believe will be as serious as climate change.

In the U.S., Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year with a dismal 23 percent recycling rate. A North American study last year found that 22 million pounds of plastic goes into the waters of the Great Lakes each year. The researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology said that Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland and Detroit are the worst contributors to plastic pollution. In Lake Michigan alone, an equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic bottles get dumped into the lake every year. Like in the oceans, the plastic trash in the Great Lakes breaks down into microplastics, which are consumed by fish and other aquatic life and moves up the food chain.

A widely reported study by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation determined that by the year 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. Not only that, researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia and Imperial College London found that 99 percent of seabirds will swallow plastic by 2050.

Many people opt for bottled water because they think it's cleaner or tastes better. But Annie Leonard, the executive director of Greenpeace USA notes that's not necessarily true and is a wasteful way to spend our dollars.

"A four-year review of the bottled water industry in the U.S. and the safety standards that govern it, including independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water found that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. In fact tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water," Leonard wrote. "In fact, a lot of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is just treated water from our municipal water systems; the same place our tap water comes from."

Leonard continued, "As for the plastic containers that bottled water comes in, plastic's made from oil and there's nothing good about drilling that stuff up."

She's right. Besides choking fish and seabirds, the production of plastic bottles requires an enormous amount of resources. The Pacific Institute estimates that the production of bottles for American consumption requires the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, that the bottling process produces more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and that it takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.

It's clear that the world needs to give up this wasteful and environmentally damaging addiction. If you'd like to cut down on your plastic footprint, read this.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Insights
David Ingram / Flickr

Energy Efficiency and Technology Squeeze the Carbon Bubble

The carbon bubble will burst with or without government action, according to a new study. That will hurt people who invest in fossil fuels.

As energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies improve and prices drop, global demand for fossil fuels will decline, "stranding" new fossil fuel ventures—likely before 2035, according to the study in Nature Climate Change, "Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets."

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
Pixabay

Seattle's Ban on Plastic Straws, Utensils Begins July 1

Starting next month, Seattle eateries will no longer provide plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks to customers.

"As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils," Sego Jackson, the strategic advisor for Waste Prevention and Product Stewardship for Seattle Public Utilities told Q13 FOX. "What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. But they also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether."

Keep reading... Show less
Food

A New Breed of Plant-Based Protein Aims to Compete on Meat-Centric Menus

The Beyond Burger debuted in restaurants and stores across Hong Kong in April 2017. It's a plant-based burger made of peas for protein, beetroot for a beefy red color, and coconut oil and potato starch. According to its makers, the ingredients together create a juiciness and chew like animal meat. The burger has gained significant media attention, along with other new entrants like the high-profile Impossible Burger, which is made from plant-based protein designed to bleed like meat.

Keep reading... Show less
Food

Without Bees, the Foods We Love Will Be Lost

Below is a transcript of the video.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Strawberry dart frog, Dendrobatidae: Oophaga pumilio. Geoff Gallice / CC BY 2.0

Climate Change to Become ‘Greatest Pressure on Biodiversity’ by 2070

By Daisy Dunne

The combined effects of global warming and land-use change could cause the world's ecosystems to lose more than a third of their animal species by 2070, a new study finds.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Lee Johnson and his two sons. Lee Johnson

Man vs. Monsanto: First Trial Over Roundup Cancer Claims Set to Begin

By Carey Gillam

Dewayne "Lee" Johnson has led what many might call an unremarkable life. The 46-year-old father and husband spent several years working as a school groundskeeper and spending free time teaching his two young sons to play football. But this week he takes center stage in a global debate over the safety of one of the world's most widely used pesticides as he takes Monsanto to court on claims that repeated exposure to the company's popular Roundup herbicide left him with terminal cancer.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Highway 50 in Colorado. Doug Kerr / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Colorado Resists Pruitt’s Polluting Agenda by Adopting California Emissions Standards

Colorado joined 12 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting California's stricter vehicle emissions standards Tuesday, The Denver Post reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Ryan Zinke at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC on Jan. 18, 2018. Lance Cheung / USDA / Flickr

Zinke Caught in Conflict of Interest With Oil Giant Halliburton

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has spent his first 15 months opening public lands to oil and gas drilling, has been linked to a development project with Halliburton chairman David Lesar, POLITICO reported Tuesday.

Lesar is backing a real estate development in Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana and receiving help from a foundation started by Zinke and currently run by his wife, Lola.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!