The British Royal Statistical Society has a tradition of forming a "major number of the year", which should capture its spirit and symbolism for history. In 2017, it became the number 69 - as many Americans die on average per year from lawn mowers. And this year 90.5 was chosen as the main number - so much of the world's plastic waste will never end up in recycling.
One should not see the absurdity or isolation from life in such studies. 69 was a decisive argument when a fierce debate erupted over whether to ban the entry into the United States of migrants, among whom, allegedly, many people prone to violence. Statistics took the floor and suddenly it turned out that migrants kill only 2 people a year, while the Americans themselves kill 11, 737 of their neighbors over the same period. Even lawn mowers, a peaceful tool, and even more dangerous than visitors - 69 had a big impact on American society in 2017.
Over the past 60 years, since the beginning of the mass production of plastic, 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste have been accumulated in the world. And 90.5% of them will never be recycled, unless some kind of scientific and technological revolution or other radical event happens. But what is this 90.5%? How can you measure them with the usual measures, realize the scale of what is happening? For example, if you put your trash in plastic bags, you get 7.2 trillion bags. Imagine a road to the Moon made of this rubbish - it would be a long tape 2 km wide!
Not impressive? Well, yes, the moon is far away, but economic problems concern everyone. Statisticians have calculated that at current prices for accepting plastic waste for recycling in one full package of raw materials, it is about $ 1. This means that there is $ 7 trillion lying around us - if someone overworked at least half, he could come to Silicon Valley and just start buying up all IT companies in a row, without looking at the price tag. But no, 90.5% of this wealth will continue to litter the oceans and third world countries, and we will continue to provoke climate disasters in order to accumulate 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste by 2050.