Some 8,300 million metric tons of plastics have been manufactured since production exploded in the 1950s, with more than 75 percent ending up as waste and 15 million metric tons reaching oceans every year. Plastic waste fragments into increasingly smaller but environmentally persistent “microplastics,” with potentially harmful effects on the health of people, wildlife and ecosystems. Plastic production increased from 2 million metric tons a year in 1950 to 380 million metric tons by 2015 and is expected to double by 2050. The plastic pollution crisis will worsen, experts say, as petrochemical companies shift from fossil fuels to fracking, which produces the plastic feedstock ethane.
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