Where Plastic Goes

Tracking where the waste ends up

In the U.S. most used plastics are never collected for recycling. Of the roughly 10 percent that is, easily sortable items like bottles tend to be recycled domestically, while most everything else gets exported, typically to countries that can sort it cheaply by hand. About 30 percent of the electronic waste exported by the U.S. is plastic, making used electronic equipment an important part of the plastics-recovery puzzle.

Where Plastic Goes

Worldwide Plastics Data Courtesy Moore Recycling Associates And The American Chemistry Council, Graphic By Katie Peek

_Wish we could free the world from having to make new plastic? Read our feature about the guy that could make this happen: _The Garbage Man.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.