To provide the most commonly used single-use plastic products, apart from straws, globally. To also provide an overview of plastic consumption categories/products in the U.S. especially in specific sectors/industries that are high consumers of plastic that can be converted to go plastic-free. This information will inform a strategy to assess the business and product opportunities for a new plastic-free and 100% biodegradable straw business.
Understanding Single-Use Plastics
- Single-use plastics are "goods that are made primarily from fossil fuel–based chemicals (petrochemicals) and are meant to be disposed of right after use—often, in mere minutes. Single-use plastics are most commonly used for packaging and serviceware."
- Small single-use plastics like straws, bags, and cutlery are traditionally hard to recycle "because they fall into the crevices of recycling machinery and therefore are often not accepted by recycling centers."
- Examples of single-use plastic products include: plastic forks and knives, plastic shopping bags, plastic coffee cup lids, plastic water bottles, Styrofoam and plastic take out containers, and plastic straws.
Commonly Used Single-Use Plastics, Globally
- cigarette butts
- plastic drinking bottles
- plastic bottle caps
- food wrappers
- plastic grocery bags
- plastic lids
- straws and stirrers
- other types of plastic bags
- foam take-away containers
Insights on Single-Use Plastics in the U.S.
- According to McKinsey, approximately 37 million tons of plastic are used every year, and single-use packaging and food-service plastics represent about 16 million tons.
- Americans consume 100 pounds per person, per year, of packaging and food-service plastics.
- The number of plastic shopping bags used each year in the U.S. is estimated at 14 billion.
- 2.5 million plastic bottles are discarded every hour, about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second, in the U.S..
- In 2017, about 63 billion straws were used annually in the U.S. (about 170-175 million straws per day).
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