SEA Professor Co-authors First Analysis of Plastic Waste

WOODS HOLE – For the first time ever, a study has been published tracing world-wide production, use, and disposal of plastics. The piece was co-authored by Dr. Kara Lavender Law, Research Professor of Oceanography at the SEA Education Association in Woods Hole.

The report, published in scientific journal Scientific Advances, seeks to help guide strategies in order to confront the problems posed by plastics pollution since widespread production began in the 1950’s.

Authors of the study estimate that some 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been produced as of 2015, from which a significant amount of plastic waste has been generated. Of that waste, nine percent has been recycled, 12 percent has been incinerated, and 79 percent is currently filling landfills across the globe.

The scientists predict that the amount of plastic filling our landfills will grow to 12 billion metric tons by the year 2015.

The report says that without a strategy moving forward for dealing with plastic waste, “billions of tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.”

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