Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone.
The plastic will hang around for hundreds if not thousands of years, with potentially harmful consequences for the environment, the researchers warn.
And, If current trends continue, the researchers warned more than 13 billion tons of plastic waste will be discarded in landfills or dumped in the environment by 2050 - around 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building in NY.
They said that the human race is carrying out an 'uncontrolled experiment on a global scale in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet'. But then, Geyer said the researchers chose to include plastic fibers used in textiles, such as in fleece and polyester, which are used to make clothing, carpets, curtains and furniture.
These statistics are thanks to a new study led by a University of California-Santa Barbara researcher and published Wednesday in Science Advances, attempting to quantify the sheer amount of plastics out there right now - its imposing title is "Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made".
None of the plastics in widespread use are biodegradable. It pointed to other research that showed that plastics reduce environmental costs by four times compared to other materials.
"Our estimate of eight million metric tonnes going into the oceans in 2010 is equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world", said Jenna Jambeck, co-author of both studies, in a statement at the time. Many experts agree that expanded waste management infrastructure is the key to addressing sustainable use of these resources. Most of that material has already become waste but has not been recycled, and that could spell trouble for our environment and our planet as a whole. As the largest market within plastics is disposable packaging, created to be used once, half of all plastic produced is discarded in under four years. Forty-two percent of the total was used in packaging, and in the US only 9 percent of the total was recycled.
Landfills are full of plastics that have not been recycled. That will rise to 44 percent recycling and 50 percent incineration by 2050, if current trends hold, the study said, although it noted it's very hard to predict that.
What happens when that plastic is thrown away is what worries scientists most. Emerging technologies, such as pyrolysis (extracting fuel from plastic waste) and biodigestion (using polymer-digesting organisms), offer some hope of mitigating the amount of waste in the future.
And earlier this year scientists found almost 18 tonnes of plastic on one of the world's most remote islands, an uninhabited coral atoll in the South Pacific.
The researchers are quick to stress, though, that the study should be used to highlight the issue and generate discussion about the use and distribution of plastic, and is not calling for the total removal of plastic from the marketplace.
Since nearly all plastic is non-biodegradable, these materials could "be with us for hundreds of years", languishing in landfills or floating in our seas, Geyer told NPR.
To make the game more appealing, the company is ditching the season pass arrangement and unlocking all of the DLC content . Fixed an issue in Multiplayer where parts of the player model appeared transparent in some circumstances.
Prosecutors had referred to two campaigns led by Amnesty , which weren't authored by Amnesty Turkey , the rights group said. Leaders around the world must stop biting their tongues and acting as if they can continue business as usual.
Turkey's presidential office called the German reaction an "election-related gimmick" and disrespectful to Turkey . German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said that Germany would be pursuing new policies towards Turkey .
The "Game of Thrones" Season 7 premiere had one fatality besides that one unfortunate party - Ed Sheeran's Twitter account . As EW.com points out, some diehard fans of " GoT " found the cameo distracting from the wider, more concentrated narrative.
The trust organization is facing trouble proving in court that it has the legal paperwork to prove ownership of its loans. In an unusual situation, one of the financiers behind National Collegiate's trusts agrees with some of the criticism.
However, it was soon discovered that the note features a misleading quote from Jane Austen underneath her portrait . As announced in July 2013, the note will celebrate the achievements of Jane Austen .
A growing wildfire in the U.S. state of California has forced thousands of residents of the small town of Mariposa to evacuate. Californian Governor Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency in Mariposa County Tuesday as a wildfire continues to grow.
This change led market cap to move at $84.09B, putting the price -4.63% below the 52-week high and 62.55% above the 52-week low. State of Alaska Department of Revenue bought a new position in Morgan Stanley during the first quarter valued at $120,000.
The Palestinian party called Israel's measures a "fierce and organised attack" against Palestinians living in east Jerusalem . Arab-Israeli lawmakers joined the protesters and called for the metal detectors at the site to be removed.
Pokémon GO to Feature Legendary Pokémon Very Soon
Soon, you will have the opportunity to discover legendary "unique" Pokemon eggs that will appear in the Arena. According to the official patch notes , Niantic added new icons on the Pokemon Information screen.
Eurozone interest rates kept unchanged
United Kingdom retail sales rose by 0.6 per cent in June, beating economist forecasts, following a fall of 1.2 per cent in May. Federal Reserve , which has been gradually raising interest rates on the back of a strengthening economy.
China, US to address trade imbalance, official says
China and the United States discussed a one-year action plan of economic cooperation during the first China-U.S. Analysts say domestic politics in both nations make it hard for negotiators to make progress on trade issues.
How the Biggest Online Black Market, AlphaBay, Was Shut Down
USA police say servers and millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies have been seized in connection with their investigation. Together, they managed to covertly take control of Hansa a month ago, and monitor what illegal activities were going on there.
Derrick Rose meeting with the Lakers on Thursday
However, there is apparently one former MVP that could do just that, and - the Cavs hope - salvage their offseason. According to sources at ESPN , free agent point guard Derrick Rose is in talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers .
Infamous jewel thief arrested again for shoplifting
Doris Payne , who claims to be an global jewel thief, poses in her cell at Clark County jail in Las Vegas on September 23, 2005. After she missed that March 6 appearance , the judge in the case issued a bench warrant for Payne's arrest .
Police say Muslim worshipers returning to pray at Al-Aqsa
Usta also mentioned Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan's remarks on Al-Aqsa Mosque: "Al-Aqsa Mosque is in our power". Forty Israelis, two US tourists and a British student have been killed in Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.
Cristiano Ronaldo's girlfriend pregnant with baby No 4
News, when El Mundo asked Cristiano Ronaldo if he was excited about having a baby on the way, he replied, "Yes, very". While he admits he's not very good at changing diapers, Ronaldo shared that "he tries" and that he is "very happy".
Beyoncé and Jay-Z's twins are too cool for middle names
Amidst all this, Sharon Kellaway , a 40-year-old homemaker from Ireland chose to "repeat" the feat but in her own way. The 35-year-old Grammy victor announced her pregnancy with an over-the-top photoshoot she posted to Instagram.
Tropical Storm Don moving through southern Caribbean Sea
Right now, the storm is located near Barbados and has weakened significantly, and is barely still qualified as a tropical storm. Tropical cyclone names are designated years in advance in a rotating list that this season just happens to contain Don.
Frontier adds flights from Orlando to Midwest
Val Tyler, senior legal counsel for Frontier, said the airline is adding new service at regional airports across the country. Westgate says there are direct connections available to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, among other destinations.