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Humans Have Produced 18.2 Trillion Pounds of Plastic. Most Ends Up Here

Solid waste landfill in Moscow RegionSolid waste landfill in Moscow Region
Birds flying over piles of garbage. Sergei Bobylev

Humans have officially produced 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic.

According to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, that amount has continually increased since large-scale plastic production began in the 1950s, with nearly 80% of that plastic ending up in landfills. The amount is expected to reach 26.5 trillion pounds in 2050, according to the study.

“Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years,” Jenna Jambeck, study co-author and associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, told USA Today.

While China, the U.S. and Europe produce the most plastic, the U.S. is the worst out of the three when it comest to recycling, Roland Geyer, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also told USA Today.

Additionally, a separate study argues that there may be much as 70 million tons of plastic waste on the sea floor.