Since the late 1940s, plastic has become one of the most versatile modern inventions, as well as one of the largest environmental pollutants facing humans and animals. Each year, humans produce 420 million tons of plastic materials. In the 70 years plastic has been around, we have created nine billion tons of it. Your beer, your tap water, even your blood may contain traces of plastic.
In the United States, less than 10 percent of that waste is recycled; in Europe, it’s just 30 percent. As much as 14 million tons have flowed into our oceans, while landfills are clogged with the virtually indestructible material. Despite its harm to our ecosystems around the world, our appetite for plastic keeps growing.
That’s the question behind the PBS NewsHour series “The Plastic Problem.” From the oceanside bluffs of Santa Barbara, California, to the rocky shorelines of Easter Island in the Pacific, our reporters traveled far and wide to find out why we rely so heavily on plastics, what plastic alternatives may exist and what the nation’s leading innovators are doing to reduce our plastic waste.
Read a recap of the conversation below via Twitter Moments: