Green Cities

Plastic Pollution and Management of Waste


Fact Sheet: Plastic Pollution and Management of Waste

The billions upon billions of items of plastic waste choking our oceans, lakes, and rivers and piling up on land is more than unsightly and harmful to plants and wildlife. The following 10 facts shed light on how plastic waste is managed and why it is damaging to our planet, health, and wildlife. To learn more about the threat and impact of plastic pollution and get tips to reduce your plastic consumption, download our Plastic Pollution Primer and Toolkit today! [su_table]


About two billion people live without waste collection at all, and 3 billion have uncontrolled waste disposal, meaning poor management of solid waste is a global problem.[1]


Over 90% of plastic in the oceans comes directly from land-based sources.1


Between 4 and 12 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans annually from mismanaged solid waste within 50km of the coast.1


Out of the 50 largest uncontrolled dumpsites globally, 38 are on the coast and many spill directly into the sea.1


Out of all plastic ever produced, 79% (5.5 billion US tons) of plastic waste has accumulated in landfills and the natural environment.[2]


Not all waste management facilities use the same technology. Some might be able to deal with plastics that are not recyclable when deposited in the wrong bin, but for others, the process will be much more complicated when mistakes are made.[3]


12 billion metric tons of plastic waste (13.2 billion US tons) will enter landfills or the environment by 2050 if current production and waste management trends continue.2


Uncontrolled burning of household waste causes about 270,000 premature deaths yearly.1


Plastic waste can block drains, which increases the risk of major flooding that leads to property damage and human displacement.1

FACT #10

Without waste management infrastructure improvements, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025.3


[1] From the Land to the Sea: How Better Solid Waste Management Can Improve the Lives of the World’s Poorest and Halve the Quantity of Plastic Entering the Oceans. CIWM and WasteAid UK, Mar. 2018.

[2] Geyer, Roland, et al. “Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made.” Science Advances, vol. 3, no. 7, 19 July 2017, doi:10.1126/sciadv.1700782.

[3] Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit, Earth Day Network 2018