Where does it go from here?
China, which once processed much of the world's scrap, has slashed imports of "foreign garbage." What can the US do to step up recycling at home?
When temperatures rise and ice melts, more water flows to the seas and ocean water warms and expands in volume.
Plastic is not as much of a threat to oceans as climate change or over-fishing.
Volunteers from all over the world are taking part in a citizen science project to help scientists work out how bad microplastic pollution really is.
Plastic pollution on a beach on Bali, Indonesia.
Asian countries have become a dumping ground for the plastic waste from wealthy countries.
Worth the effort?
There are lots of issues with recycling – but it's still an important part of society's efforts to live more sustainably.
An escalator with a pile of plastic bottles at the factory for processing and recycling.
With all those blue recycling bins around you might think we are experts at recycling plastics. The truth is, that though many plastic items can be recycled, very few are. So what's the solution?
Plastics are hard to avoid in daily life.
Researchers unpack the vast impact of plastic on our society – from emerging health worries and pollution to recycling and plastic's contributions to modern convenience.
Over 99 percent of today’s plastics come from oil, but new bio-based options are becoming available.
Icons by Vectors Market, Freepik and srip
One big problem with plastics is that they're largely made of petroleum. Sourcing bio-polymers from plants and bacteria has some big benefits – and the technology is starting to take off.
Academics from different disciplines come Head to Head in this series to tackle topical debates.
In the EU, 31% of plastic products go to landfill: but a process called "cold plasma pyrolysis" could turn them into clean fuels.
Instead of fighting other countries, we should be fighting our overflowing landfills.
Trump's plan to slap $200 billion more in tariffs on Chinese goods is premised on yesterday's waste-fueled economy. Tomorrow's economy is 'circular.'
Many plastics that used BPA have now replaced it with substitutes like BPS, a related molecule that may have just as many health issues.
BPA, used widely in plastics and as a liner in food cans, was replaced by a related chemical called BPS. But it seems that this substitute may also harm eggs and sperm and disrupt hormones.
The market for plastic recycling is drying up, prompting a discussion over what to do with household waste.
Incineration of household waste has gotten a bad name, argues an economist, who sees today's recycling crisis as an opportunity to reconsider how the U.S. handles its waste.
Debris pulled from a Lake Erie marina during a cleanup, June 9, 2012.
NOAA Office of Response and Restoration
Roughly 10,000 tons of plastic enter the Great Lakes every year, and scientists want to know where it ends up. There are some parallels to ocean plastics, but also important differences.
Conveyors carry mixed plastic into a device that will shred recycle them at a plastics recycling plant in Vernon, California.
AP Photo/Reed Saxon,File
Since China stopped importing 'foreign garbage' in March 2018, scrap – especially plastic – has built up in the US. Will this shock trigger long-overdue investments in plastic recycling here?
Food packaging is one of the top uses for plastic in consumer goods.
Bio-based plastics made from natural sources break down more easily than conventional plastic, without producing toxic byproducts. But for this to happen they have to be composted, not buried in landfills.
Used once and done.
Research is yielding strategies for making plastics greener and more sustainable. But without support as they scale up, new versions will struggle to compete with well-established synthetic plastics.
Microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea.
By Dirk Wahn/shutterstock.com
Microplastics are everywhere--our water, soil, and even the air we breathe. The consequences of this exposure on human health is unknown. But studies in animals give us reason to worry.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used in a variety of applications from plumbing to health care to electronics.
By SIRIKANLAYA KHLIBNGERN/shutterstock.com
The most common explanation for obesity is overeating calorie-rich foods and a sedentary lifestyle. But new studies suggest that chemicals in our environment might be another cause.
One plastic is particularly well-suited for the kitchen’s extreme temperatures.
Kitchens are like mini laboratories, with foods and utensils exposed to extreme temperatures. So it's no surprise that a material used for Mars missions has found its way into a range of cooking ware.