The Future of the World’s Plastic Waste, by Disposal Method
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Here’s Where the World’s Plastic Waste Will End Up, by 2050

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The World's Plastic Waste

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The Briefing

  • Since 1950, plastic production has rapidly outpaced any other synthetic material
  • Although recycling efforts have improved over the years, only a fraction of the world’s plastic is currently being recycled
  • If trends continue, over 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will end up in landfills

The Future of the World’s Plastic Waste

Plastic use has surged worldwide over the last 50 years. In fact, more than 480 billion plastic water bottles were sold across the globe in 2018—that’s approximately 1 million per minute.

Where does all this plastic go, and how much of it is being recycled? Here’s a look at the end-of-life fate of the world’s plastic.

A Breakdown of Disposal Methods

If current trends in plastic production and waste management continue as they are, here’s where 33 billion metric tons of plastic waste will end up by 2050.

Disposal MethodMetric tons% of total plastic waste
Recycled8.53 billion25.7%
Incinerated12.39 billion37.3%
Discarded12.28 billion37.0%
Total33.2 billion

To clarify, this is a rough cumulative estimate of all the plastic that’s been discarded since 1950. This figure includes both primary and secondary (previously recycled) plastics.

Of the 33.2 billion tons of plastic waste, more than 12 billion metric tons is expected to end up in landfills, or in our natural environment. A large portion of this discarded plastic will find its way into our oceans. In fact, if things remain as they are, plastics are expected to outweigh our ocean’s fish population by 2050.

On the flip side, only about 9 billion metric tons are projected to be recycled—roughly 25.7%.

Recycling Has its Limits

It’s worth noting that plastic recycling is not an infinite loop.

On the contrary, most plastics can only be recycled once or twice before they’re discarded, since polymers in plastic break down during the recycling process.

That’s why many experts stress the importance of reducing and reusing over recycling.

As Beth Porter, author of Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine: Sorting Out the Recycling System said in an interview with the Atlantic, “I don’t want people to think that what they do as an individual doesn’t matter…[but] we won’t recycle our way out of this crisis.”

»Like this? Then you might enjoy this full article, Mapping the Flow of the World’s Plastic Waste

Where does this data come from?

Source: Science Advances: Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made
Details: This research relies on global annual pure polymer (resin) production data from 1950 to 2015. Check out the full research paper for more details on methodology

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Visualizing Companies with the Most Patents Granted in 2021

Companies around the world invest billions in R&D to provide cutting-edge innovation to their products and services.

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companies with the most patents

The Briefing

  • In 2021, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted a total of 327,798 utility patents
  • For almost three decades, IBM has been granted more patents each year than any other U.S. company

Visualizing Companies with the Most Patents Granted in 2021

Companies around the world invest billions in R&D to provide cutting-edge innovation to their products and services. In order to protect these investments, companies apply for patents. Therefore, the number of utility patents a company is granted can be considered a rough measure of its level of innovation.

Every year, the Patent 300 List identifies America’s most innovative companies within the intellectual property space by analyzing the patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

In 2021, the USPTO granted a total of 327,798 utility patents, down 7% from the previous year. Let’s take a look at which companies generated the most patents in 2021.

RankCountryCompany/Organization2021
Patents
Change
from 2020
1🇺🇸 U.S.International Business Machines Corporation8,540-9%
2🇰🇷 South KoreaSamsung Electronics Co., Ltd.8,5170%
3🇰🇷 South KoreaLg Corporation4,388-13%
4🇯🇵 JapanCanon K.K.3,400-8%
5🇨🇳 ChinaHuawei Technologies Co., Ltd.2,955-7%
6🇺🇸 U.S.Intel Corporation2,835-14%
7🇹🇼 TaiwanTaiwan Semiconductor Mfg. Co. Ltd.2,807-3%
8🇯🇵 JapanToyota Jidosha K.K.2,753-2%
9🇺🇸 U.S.Raytheon Technologies Corporation2,694-16%
10🇯🇵 JapanSony Corporation2,624-9%

For 29 consecutive years, IBM has led U.S. companies in the number of patents received annually. In 2021, the company received 8,540 patents, a 9% decline from the previous year.

IBM’s innovations are focused on solving major global challenges, and cover areas such as sustainable growth, climate change, and preventing future pandemics, as well as initiatives enabling food and energy security. They aim to address these problems through a blend of high-performance computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum computing.

One of IBM’s most noteworthy innovations in 2021 was their new quantum processor called Eagle, which broke the 100-qubit barrier to bring quantum computing into a new era. This processor has the ability to solve problems that classical computers can’t, giving it the potential to bring real-world benefits to different fields from renewable energy to finance and more.

Samsung: A Close Second Innovator

Samsung Electronics is one of the biggest innovators over the last decade. In 2021, the company got 8,517 patents granted by the USPTO, a close second to IBM.

The company’s patent-winning innovations take place in several areas, including virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), 5G technologies, and autonomous driving.

The Technology Sector Dominates Utility Patents

Unsurprisingly, out of the top 25 companies with the most patents granted in 2021, 16 of them belong to the technology sector.

However, utility patents are not only limited to tech companies.

In fact, companies from all sectors apply for patents every year. Patents are great assets for companies since they give them exclusive commercial rights for their inventions and protect them from competition. This is one of the main reasons we see companies getting thousands of new patents every year.

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Russia Has Been Suspended From the UN Human Rights Council

Here’s how the global community voted on the resolution: In favor – 93 | Abstained – 58 | Against – 24

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Visualization showing Russia's suspension from UN Human Rights Council. 93 countries voted for the resolution, 24 against

The Briefing

  • 93 countries voted in favor of suspending Russia from the UN’s Human Rights Council, including all NATO member countries
  • 24 countries voted against the resolution, including; China, Iran, and North Korea

Russia Has Been Suspended From the UN Human Rights Council

On April 7, 2022, the United Nations suspended Russia from its seat on the Human Rights Council.

This suspension comes amid growing condemnation of Russia over alleged civilian murders committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. Widely distributed videos appear to show the bodies of civilians scattered along the streets in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

To be approved, the resolution required a two-thirds majority of assembly members that vote “yes” or “no”. Here is a complete list of how countries voted:

CountryVoteNATO MemberFormer Soviet Union
🇦🇩 AndorraIn favor
🇦🇫 Afghanistan--
🇦🇬 Antigua and BarbudaIn favor
🇦🇱 AlbaniaIn favor
✔️
🇦🇲 Armenia--
✔️
🇦🇴 AngolaAbstained
🇦🇷 ArgentinaIn favor
🇦🇹 AustriaIn favor
🇦🇺 AustraliaIn favor
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan--
✔️
🇧🇧 BarbadosAbstained
🇧🇩 BangladeshAbstained
🇧🇪 BelgiumIn favor
✔️
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso--
🇧🇬 BulgariaIn favor
✔️
🇧🇭 BahrainAbstained
🇧🇮 BurundiAgainst
🇧🇯 Benin--
🇧🇳 Brunei DarussalamAbstained
🇧🇴 BoliviaAgainst
🇧🇷 BrazilAbstained
🇧🇸 BahamasIn favor
🇧🇹 BhutanAbstained
🇧🇼 BotswanaAbstained
🇧🇾 BelarusAgainst
✔️
🇧🇿 BelizeAbstained
🇨🇦 CanadaIn favor
✔️
🇨🇩 Dem. Republic of the CongoIn favor
🇨🇫 Central African RepublicAgainst
🇨🇬 Republic of the CongoAgainst
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandIn favor
🇨🇮 Côte d’IvoireIn favor
🇨🇱 ChileIn favor
🇨🇲 CameroonAbstained
🇨🇳 ChinaAgainst
🇨🇴 ColombiaIn favor
🇨🇷 Costa RicaIn favor
🇨🇺 CubaAgainst
🇨🇻 Cabo VerdeAbstained
🇨🇾 CyprusIn favor
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicIn favor
✔️
🇩🇪 GermanyIn favor
✔️
🇩🇯 Djibouti--
🇩🇰 DenmarkIn favor
✔️
🇩🇲 DominicaIn favor
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicIn favor
🇩🇿 AlgeriaAgainst
🇪🇨 EcuadorIn favor
🇪🇪 EstoniaIn favor
✔️
✔️
🇪🇬 EgyptAbstained
🇪🇷 EritreaAgainst
🇪🇸 SpainIn favor
✔️
🇪🇹 EthiopiaAgainst
🇫🇮 FinlandIn favor
🇫🇯 FijiIn favor
🇫🇲 MicronesiaIn favor
🇫🇷 FranceIn favor
✔️
🇬🇦 GabonAgainst
🇬🇩 GrenadaIn favor
🇬🇪 GeorgiaIn favor
✔️
🇬🇭 GhanaAbstained
🇬🇲 GambiaAbstained
🇬🇳 Guinea--
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea--
🇬🇷 GreeceIn favor
✔️
🇬🇹 GuatemalaIn favor
🇬🇼 Guinea-BissauAbstained
🇬🇾 GuyanaAbstained
🇭🇳 HondurasIn favor
🇭🇷 CroatiaIn favor
✔️
🇭🇹 HaitiIn favor
🇭🇺 HungaryIn favor
✔️
🇮🇩 IndonesiaAbstained
🇮🇪 IrelandIn favor
🇮🇱 IsraelIn favor
🇮🇳 IndiaAbstained
🇮🇶 IraqAbstained
🇮🇷 IranAgainst
🇮🇸 IcelandIn favor
✔️
🇮🇹 ItalyIn favor
✔️
🇯🇲 JamaicaIn favor
🇯🇴 JordanAbstained
🇯🇵 JapanIn favor
🇰🇪 KenyaAbstained
🇰🇬 KyrgyzstanAgainst
✔️
🇰🇭 CambodiaAbstained
🇰🇮 KiribatiIn favor
🇰🇲 ComorosIn favor
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and NevisAbstained
🇰🇵 North KoreaAgainst
🇰🇷 South KoreaIn favor
🇰🇼 KuwaitAbstained
🇰🇿 KazakhstanAgainst
✔️
🇱🇦 LaosAgainst
🇱🇧 Lebanon--
🇱🇨 Saint LuciaIn favor
🇱🇮 LiechtensteinIn favor
🇱🇰 Sri LankaAbstained
🇱🇷 LiberiaIn favor
🇱🇸 LesothoAbstained
🇱🇹 LithuaniaIn favor
✔️
✔️
🇱🇺 LuxembourgIn favor
✔️
🇱🇻 LatviaIn favor
✔️
✔️
🇱🇾 LibyaIn favor
🇲🇦 Morocco--
🇲🇨 MonacoIn favor
🇲🇩 MoldovaIn favor
✔️
🇲🇪 MontenegroIn favor
✔️
🇲🇬 MadagascarAbstained
🇲🇭 Marshall IslandsIn favor
🇲🇰 North MacedoniaIn favor
✔️
🇲🇱 MaliAgainst
🇲🇲 MyanmarIn favor
🇲🇳 MongoliaAbstained
🇲🇷 Mauritania--
🇲🇹 MaltaIn favor
🇲🇺 MauritiusIn favor
🇲🇻 MaldivesAbstained
🇲🇼 MalawiIn favor
🇲🇽 MexicoAbstained
🇲🇾 MalaysiaAbstained
🇲🇿 MozambiqueAbstained
🇳🇦 NamibiaAbstained
🇳🇪 NigerAbstained
🇳🇬 NigeriaAbstained
🇳🇮 NicaraguaAgainst
🇳🇱 NetherlandsIn favor
✔️
🇳🇴 NorwayIn favor
✔️
🇳🇵 NepalAbstained
🇳🇷 NauruIn favor
🇳🇿 New ZealandIn favor
🇴🇲 OmanAbstained
🇵🇦 PanamaIn favor
🇵🇪 PeruIn favor
🇵🇬 Papua New GuineaIn favor
🇵🇭 PhilippinesIn favor
🇵🇰 PakistanAbstained
🇵🇱 PolandIn favor
✔️
🇵🇹 PortugalIn favor
✔️
🇵🇼 PalauIn favor
🇵🇾 ParaguayIn favor
🇶🇦 QatarAbstained
🇷🇴 RomaniaIn favor
✔️
🇷🇸 SerbiaIn favor
🇷🇺 RussiaAgainst
✔️
🇷🇼 Rwanda--
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaAbstained
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands--
🇸🇨 SeychellesIn favor
🇸🇩 SudanAbstained
🇸🇪 SwedenIn favor
🇸🇬 SingaporeAbstained
🇸🇮 SloveniaIn favor
✔️
🇸🇰 SlovakiaIn favor
✔️
🇸🇱 Sierra LeoneIn favor
🇸🇲 San MarinoIn favor
🇸🇳 SenegalAbstained
🇸🇴 Somalia--
🇸🇷 SurinameAbstained
🇸🇸 South SudanAbstained
🇸🇹 Sao Tome and Principe--
🇸🇻 El SalvadorAbstained
🇸🇾 SyriaAgainst
🇸🇿 EswatiniAbstained
🇹🇩 ChadIn favor
🇹🇬 TogoAbstained
🇹🇭 ThailandAbstained
🇹🇯 TajikistanAgainst
✔️
🇹🇱 Timor LesteIn favor
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan--
✔️
🇹🇳 TunisiaAbstained
🇹🇴 TongaIn favor
🇹🇷 TurkeyIn favor
✔️
🇹🇹 Trinidad and TobagoAbstained
🇹🇻 TuvaluIn favor
🇹🇿 TanzaniaAbstained
🇺🇦 UkraineIn favor
✔️
🇺🇬 UgandaAbstained
🇦🇪 United Arab EmiratesAbstained
🇬🇧 United KingdomIn favor
✔️
🇺🇸 United StatesIn favor
✔️
🇺🇾 UruguayIn favor
🇺🇿 UzbekistanAgainst
✔️
🇻🇨 St Vincent and the GrenadinesAbstained
🇻🇪 Venezuela--
🇻🇳 VietnamAgainst
🇻🇺 VanuatuAbstained
🇼🇸 SamoaIn favor
🇾🇪 YemenAbstained
🇿🇦 South AfricaAbstained
🇿🇲 Zambia--
🇿🇼 ZimbabweAgainst
🏴󠁢󠁡󠁢󠁩󠁨󠁿 Bosnia and HerzegovinaIn favor

Not surprisingly, all NATO countries voted in favor of suspending Russia from the Council. This includes Turkey, which has taken a more neutral stance than other allies since the invasion began. Altogether, 93 countries voted for the resolution.

On the other side, 24 countries voted against the resolution. China is perhaps the most significant “no” vote, citing a lack of openness and transparency in the process. Of course, Russia itself voted against the resolution.

A number of countries abstained from voting, most notably, India. Leading up to the vote, Moscow indicated that even an abstention would be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties.

This suspension adds to the list of actions taken against Russia—including heavy sanctions—as the country becomes more isolated from the international community—particularly Western nations.

What Does the UN Human Rights Council Do?

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a UN body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.

The Council investigates breaches of human rights in UN member states and member countries address big picture human rights issues.

How Does the UN Human Rights Council Work?

The Council consists of 47 members, elected yearly by the General Assembly for staggered three-year terms.

Using the UN regional grouping system, members are selected to represent a diverse and fair mix of countries from around the world. Until its suspension, Russia was one of the two countries representing Eastern Europe, along with Ukraine.

Members are eligible for re-election for one additional term, after which they relinquish their seat.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The United Nations

Correction: An earlier version of this graphic had a Colombian flag in the “abstain” section. It has been replaced with the correct flag, Cambodia. Austria was also erroneously grouped with NATO countries.

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