NYC to go trash B&W Long rectangle.jpg

The Bleak Facts

50% of the plastic used in the U.S. is used just once then thrown away. 



Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year, and only 8 percent gets recycled. The rest piles up in landfills, is incinerated or becomes litter. 


50-80% of debris found in the marine environment is plastic; found on the seabed, beaches and drifting in the sea. A total of 660 species are known to encounter plastic debris, affecting the food chain from the smallest phytoplankton to top predators such as whales and birds.


There are over five trillion pieces of plastic, weighing more than 250,000 tons, floating in our oceans. That's more than 700 pieces of plastic per person. 


Scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of microplastic in one square kilometer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; about 1.9 million bits per square mile. Most comes from plastic bags, bottle caps, plastic water bottles, and Styrofoam cups.


On average, a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of lunch waste per school year (40,000 pounds of lunch waste per middle school). 


Packaging accounts for 32% of all household waste in the U.S. 


We are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.


86% of plastic bottles in the U.S. end up in a landfill or incinerator.


Sources: Data from WorldWatch Institute, EPA, NRDC, NAPCOR, 
Container Recycling Institute, National Geographic Institute.

40 billion 
plastic utensils are used and tossed every year in the U.S. 

Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day, which could fill over 127 school buses every day, or more than 46,400 school buses every year.


Worldwide more than one million plastic bags are used every minute.


Americans discard 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. 


Every year, Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags. 


About 25 billion single-use coffee cups end up in landfills every year. If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you'll end up creating about 23 pounds of waste in one year. 


 
 A classic example of commingling of recycled and unrecycled waste, which results in the recyclable items heading straight to an incinerator or landfill.

A classic example of commingling of recycled and unrecycled waste, which results in the recyclable items heading straight to an incinerator or landfill.