what if plas­tic was never in­vented?

The mod­ern world just wouldn’t work without this won­der ma­te­rial

How It Works - - SCIENCE -

There is plas­tic in your teabags, it makes your socks stretchy, and it stops the fat in your packet of crisps go­ing ran­cid. It’s used in life-sav­ing med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, like sy­ringes, catheters and in­cu­ba­tors. It forms the cir­cuit boards inside your phone, the in­su­la­tion that wraps the wires in your house, and it makes planes light enough to fly. Without it, the mod­ern world as we know it would not ex­ist.

Plas­tic is one of the most ver­sa­tile ma­te­ri­als ever in­vented, but it’s be­come so cheap we don’t think twice about throw­ing it away. Ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, we have made over 8 bil­lion tons of plas­tic, and we have thrown three-quar­ters of it away. We sent 79 per cent to land­fill, burnt 12 per cent and re­cy­cled nine per cent, all since the 1950s.

Un­like with or­ganic waste, most bac­te­ria sim­ply won’t touch plas­tic, so it doesn’t mat­ter how long we leave it, it will never biode­grade.

By 2050, there will be more plas­tic in the sea than fish

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