Plastics have changed the world for the better. Today, their benefits are so widespread that they are often overseen. Two examples: Plastics make vehicles safer and considerably lighter, which means they consume less fuel. Plastics insulate buildings - one of the major sources of CO₂ - against heat and cold. As a result of their versatility, polymer materials have been produced in large quantities. Between 1950 and 2015 alone, the industry produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic worldwide, as a scientific publication by the university of Georgia shows.
But there’s a dark side to the human use of this material: waste has become an environmental threat, due to a lack of proper disposal and recycling. Almost five billion tons of plastic waste ended up in landfills or in the environment between 1950 and 2015. According to BBC research, another 1.3 billion tons could pollute our environment by 2040 if fundamental action is not taken.