Global plastic waste on track to triple by 2060
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Annual production of fossil-fuel-based plastics are set to top 1.2 billion tonnes by 2060 and waste to exceed one billion tonnes, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Even with aggressive action to cut demand and improve efficiencies, plastic production would almost double in less than 40 years, the 38-nation body projects in a report.
There is increasing international alarm over volume and omnipresence of plastics pollution, and its impact.
Infiltrating the most remote and otherwise pristine regions of the planet, microplastics have been discovered inside fish in the deepest recesses of the ocean and locked inside Arctic ice.
The debris is estimated to cause the deaths of more than a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals each year.
"Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges of the 21st century, causing wide-ranging damage to ecosystems and human health," OECD chief Mathias Cormann said.
Since the 1950s, roughly 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced with more than 60 percent of that tossed into landfills, burned or dumped directly into rivers and oceans.
Some 460 million tonnes of plastics were used in 2019, twice as much as 20 years earlier.
Driven by economic growth and an expanding population, plastics production is set to increase under either scenario, the OECD warns.
Where policies can make a huge difference is in the handling of waste.
Earlier this year, the United Nations set in motion a process to develop an internationally binding treaty to limit plastic pollution.