Visualizing Global Plastic Production, Broken Down

Visualizing Global Plastic Production, Broken Down

Global plastic consumption is gargantuan. It needs to be discussed in terms of hundreds of years and billions of tons. But to most, those digits don't mean anything. They're incomprehensibly greater than any figures we use day-to-day. We can't help but struggle to understand the scale of the situation.

Take, for example, this mind-boggling statistic (pdf): The total amount of plastic ever created is 8.3 billion metric tons.

Recognizable analogies—it's the same mass as 1 billion elephants—result in similarly large and difficult-to-comprehend quantities. That's 2,500 times the number of elephants that actually exist.

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