We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute

LONDON • A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump by 20 per cent by 2021, according to The Guardian.

This is being driven by growing demand for bottled water and the spread of Western culture to China and the Asia-Pacific.

The Guardian said more than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold last year across the world, up from about 300 billion a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun.

By 2021, this will rise to 583.3 billion, according to the latest estimates by Euromonitor International's global packaging trends report, cited by The Guardian.

Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7 per cent of those collected were turned into new bottles. Most plastic bottles produced end up in landfills or in the ocean.

China is responsible for most of the increase in demand. The Chinese public's consumption of bottled water accounted for nearly a quarter of global demand, The Guardian quoted Ms Rosemary Downey, head of packaging at Euromonitor and one of the world's experts in plastic bottle production, as saying.

In 2015, consumers in China bought 68.4 billion bottles of water and this increased to 73.8 billion bottles last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute'. Print Edition | Subscribe