Plastic has proved irresistible to consumers and manufacturers, who have been complacent about the collateral damage it causes the environment. However, the tide — now awash with an additional 8-million tons of plastic entering the oceans annually — is slowly turning. The scale of the environmental problem is staggering. More than 6.3-billion tons of plastic waste has been produced since the 1950s, more than half of which was produced in the past 16 years, and plastic production is expected to double again in the next 20 years. Despite higher recycling rates, large amounts of plastic leak into the environment. Estimates say there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 and there is evidence that plastic is present throughout the human food chain. Companies and governments are being forced to do things differently. In the past week, the European parliament announced a ban on single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers from 2021 and declared that all non-replaceable...

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