10 Shocking Facts About Plastic

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Photograph by Rune Haldorsen, National Geographic Your Shot

More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.

Photograph by Noel Guevara, National Geographic Your Shot

Worldwide, 73 percent of beach litter is plastic: filters from cigarette butts, bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, and polystyrene containers.

Photograph by Marco Antonio R., National Geographic Your Shot

World plastic production has increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 162 million in 1993 to 448 million by 2015.

Photograph by Soumyodeep Mukherjee, National Geographic Your Shot

By 2050, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic.

Photograph by Praveen Balasubramanian, National Geographic Your Shot

As of 2015, more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent accumulated in landfills or environment.

Photograph by Abdul Hakim, National Geographic Your Shot

Around the world, nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute.

Photograph by David Higgins, National Geographic Your Shot

Estimates for how long plastic endures range from 450 years to forever.

Photograph by Doris Enders, National Geographic Your Shot

The largest market for plastics today is packaging materials. That trash now accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste generated globally—most of it never gets recycled or incinerated.

Photograph by Jayed Hasan, National Geographic Your Shot

Some 700 species of marine animals have been reported so far to have eaten or become entangled in plastic.

Photograph by David Jones, National Geographic Your Shot

More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then tossed.

Photograph by Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart, National Geographic Your Shot