Visualising the world’s addiction to plastic bottles

Plastic bottle garbage constitutes a significant and escalating environmental crisis on a global scale. The widespread use and disposal of plastic bottles have led to a host of ecological and social challenges, making it a pressing concern for individuals, communities, and governments worldwide.

Plastic bottles, commonly crafted from materials like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), have become emblematic of our modern convenience-driven culture. The proliferation of single-use plastic bottles, used to contain water, beverages, and other liquids, has spurred a linear economy model where products are manufactured, used briefly, and then discarded. This culture of disposability is at the heart of the plastic bottle garbage issue.

As consumption patterns have intensified, so has the production of plastic bottles. Mass production of these bottles has not only contributed to immense amounts of waste but has also put a strain on natural resources, particularly the fossil fuels required to manufacture plastic. Once these bottles have served their immediate purpose, they are often discarded haphazardly, ending up in landfills, rivers, and oceans.

Reuters Graphics puts into view the gigantic scale of plastic bottle garbage by comparing it to recognizable world landmarks.

Every hour, close to 54.5 million bottles is dumped in the world. When accumulated, the heap would be higher than the Brazilian statue Jesus Christ.

Plastic Bottles and statue of Jesus Christ

In a day, over 1.3 billion bottles are discarded. If you were to take the lift up the Eiffel Tower, you’d reach the top of this heap about midway up.

Plastic bottles and Eiffel Tower

In a month about 40 billion bottles are dumped.

Plastic bottles and Eiffel Tower

481.6 billion plastic bottles were sold in 2018. These bottles gathered in a heap, it would be higher than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai - the tallest building in the world.

Plastic bottles and Burj Khalifa

The last ten years 4 trillion bottles were sold. If all plastic bottle waste were piled up, New Yorkers would see a plastic mountain every time they watched out their window rising to over half the elevation of the top of the Rocky Mountains.

Plastic bottles and New York

To learn more about plastic garbage have a look at the following books:

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