Synopsis: This week on “Learn Me Something,” Aaron and Rich delve into plastics. How much plastic do we recycle in North America, how do we compare to the rest of the world, and what nascent technologies are helping us solve this environmental problem?
Because plastic wasn’t invented until the late 19th century, and production really only took off around 1950, we have a mere 9.2 billion tons of the stuff to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling bin—a figure that stunned the scientists who crunched the numbers in 2017.
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Present: Aaron Stewart, Rich Plumb
- Timeline of plastic development
- The world is facing a massive pile-up of plastic trash
- More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution
- We’re Drowning In Plastic Trash. Jenna Jambeck Wants To Save Us
- WE MADE PLASTIC. WE DEPEND ON IT. NOW WE’RE DROWNING IN IT.
- You Can Help Turn the Tide on Plastic
- A Running List of Action on Plastic Pollution
- Scientists stumbled upon a plastic-eating bacterium—then accidentally made it stronger
- A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate)
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Download: Episode 63: The Plastic Problem