YCAN Plastic Facts

Did you know?

  • More than 8 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since its invention six decades ago1,
  • Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled2,
  • 12% is incinerated3,
  • Most of it is in landfill or littered around the world on land and sea4,
  • We don’t know how long it survives once discarded; depending on the type of plastic it could be 20 to 1000 years5,
  • Globally we purchase 1 million plastic bottles per minute6,
  • Australians now use around 6 billion plastic bags per year7,
  • Plastic bags are never free; somebody pays 4–6 cents for every plastic bag manufactured, while costs are passed on to consumers8, and then,
  • there are the costs to collect plastic as litter, transport it to landfill or incinerate it.

These are just the financial costs. The environmental costs are higher:

  • Plastics are made from non-renewable resources – gas, crude oil and coal9,
  • The manufacture of plastics produces greenhouse gases, about 6 kilos of CO2 for every kilo of plastic10,
  • Plastic finds its way into our rivers and oceans where marine creatures ingest it; this can kill them by choking or poison them with toxins11,
  • Toxins leach from plastic in landfill and can find their way into waterways12,
  • Toxins leached from plastic and ingested by marine creatures can find their way into our food13, and
  • The UN estimates that, by weight, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050 if we don’t change our behaviour14.

Sign the Proudly Plastic Free Yarra petition.

View and print a PDF of  YCAN Plastic facts.


1. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2017/07/19/plastic-produced-humanity/#.WbstN61L1EI
2. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/
3. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/
4. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/
5. http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/bags/
6. https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/07/26/million-plastic-bottles-minute-91-not-recycled/#2e494305292c
7. http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/bags/
8. http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/bags/
9. https://www.plasticsmakeitpossible.com/about-plastics/types-of-plastics/what-are-plastics/
10. http://timeforchange.org/plastic-bags-and-plastic-bottles-CO2-emissions
11. http://1bagatatime.com/learn/plastic-bags-oceans/
12. http://1bagatatime.com/learn/plastic-bags-oceans/
13. http://1bagatatime.com/learn/plastic-bags-oceans/
14. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/kenya-plastic-bag-laws.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170914&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=8&nlid=70306124&ref=headline&te=1