what if plastic was never invented?
The modern world just wouldn’t work without this wonder material
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