What are the Most Common Sources of Plastic Waste?

Most of us know that plastic waste is a real problem. Even so, the scope of the problem may shock you. According to one study, humans produce about 350 million metric tons of plastic waste every single year. And if we continue on our current trajectory, that number may triple by 2060.

This is a sobering thought, but thankfully, there is still time to act decisively. All of us can play a part in curbing plastic waste production. And one of the first steps is knowing exactly where all this plastic waste comes from.

Common Sources of Plastic Waste

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common sources of plastic waste are all everyday items, the kinds of refuse you might notice while you’re walking down the street, strolling along the beach, or even hiking along a favorite nature trail. Knowing what the biggest culprits are is the first step toward taking meaningful action, ensuring you’re doing everything you can to minimize these single-use plastics in your own life.

1) Food wrappers and containers.

Environmental research indicates that food wrappers account for roughly a third of all litter and pollution. Think twice before tossing your potato chip bag or candy wrapper on the ground. Better yet, seek food products that come in recyclable or reusable packaging.

2) Bottle and container caps.

The caps from soda bottles and milk jugs make up more than 10 percent of all environmental pollution. Again, the answer here is to seek reusable packaging, particularly reusable water bottles.

3) Plastic bags.

Plastic bags have long been the scourge of the anti-plastic movement. They are especially problematic when they make their way into oceans and streams. Opt for reusable shopping bags whenever you possibly can.

4) Straws and stirrers.

Many states and municipalities have taken action against straws and coffee stirrers. It’s not difficult to see why: These seemingly innocuous items account for around 10 percent of all environmental pollution. Next time you order a beverage somewhere, request it without the straw.

5) Bottles.

Beverage bottles account for somewhere between five and eight percent of all plastic waste. As with caps and lids, the best solution is to go reusable. You might also consider installing a water bottle filling station in your place of work.

6) Takeout containers.

Takeout containers contribute a huge amount of plastic, paper, and foam waste. This is a hard one to address, but one possible solution is to call ahead and tell your favorite takeout spot that you’ll bring your own container with you.

Increase Your Mindfulness of Plastic Waste

Greater awareness is the first step toward greater action… and if we all step up our activity, we can reverse those worrisome plastic waste trends.

Another important step? Make sure your apartment complex or place of business has the right recycling partner. That’s where we come in. Reach out to WasteXperts to learn more about our sustainability-minded trash and recycling management programs.

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