Visualizing the Scale of Plastic Bottle Waste Against Major Landmarks
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Visualizing the Scale of Plastic Bottle Waste Against Major Landmarks

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Plastic Bottle Waste Per Year

View the original interactive visualization at Reuters Graphics.

Visualizing the Scale of Plastic Bottle Waste

By the time you’re finished reading this sentence, tens of thousands of plastic bottles will have been sold around the world.

The ubiquitous plastic bottle has proven to be a versatile and cost-effective vessel for everything from water to household cleaning products. Despite this undeniable utility, it’s becoming harder to ignore the sheer volume of waste created by the world’s 7.5 billion people.

Today’s data visualization from Simon Scarr and Marco Hernandez at Reuters Graphics puts into perspective the immense scale of plastic bottle waste by comparing it to recognizable global landmarks, and even the entirety of Manhattan.

Plastic Wasted in One Hour

One Hour of Plastic Bottles

Original image from REUTERS/Simon Scarr, Marco Hernandez.

Every hour, close to 55 million bottles are discarded worldwide. When accumulated, the pile would be higher than the Brazilian Art Deco statue, Christ the Redeemer.

Towering over Rio de Janeiro at 125 feet (38 meters) and with arms outstretched to 98ft (30m), the statue still pales in comparison next to the combined plastic bottle waste over this time period.

Plastic Bottle Waste: Daily and Monthly

One Day of Plastic Bottles

Original image from REUTERS/Simon Scarr, Marco Hernandez.

In the span of a day, over 1.3 billion bottles are discarded. If you were to take the elevator up the Eiffel Tower (which has a total height of 1,063ft or 324m), you’d reach the tip of this pile about halfway up.

Fast forward this by a month, however, and it’s a different story. The Eiffel Tower seems like a figurine next to a heap of approximately 40 billion tossed plastic bottles.

plastic bottle waste one month

Original image from REUTERS/Simon Scarr, Marco Hernandez.

Scaling this up, data from Euromonitor International reveals that over 481 billion plastic bottles are now wasted annually.

Accumulated, this would dwarf even Dubai’s famous Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure at an impressive 2,722ft (830m).

A Decade of Plastic

According to Reuters, nearly 4 trillion bottles were sold in the past ten years, each contributing to a 7,874ft high pile of plastic (2.4km).

plastic bottles decade

Original image from REUTERS/Simon Scarr, Marco Hernandez.

If all plastic bottle waste were piled up in this manner, New Yorkers would see a translucent mountain every time they looked out their window rising to over half the elevation of the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains, which is 14,440ft (4.4km) high.

The Global Flow of Plastic Waste Since 1950

Plastic bottles are just the tip of the iceberg for single-use plastics. Other examples include plastic bags, food packaging, coffee cup lids, and straws. As plastic use continues to flourish, even our best attempts at managing waste are falling short.

In fact, only an abysmal 6% of all plastic produced since 1950 has been recycled, with the majority ending up in landfills as litter, or getting incinerated.

Global Plastic Consumption Flow

Original image from REUTERS/Simon Scarr, Marco Hernandez.

Our plastic use is on an unsustainable trajectory, but countries are taking specific actions to curb use. Canada and the European Union (EU) will ban certain single-use plastics by 2021—and they are among 60 other nations enacting similar policies.

Corporations are also taking steps to reduce impact. A good example of this is Unilever, which made a commitment to make all its packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

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Agriculture

The World’s Top Coffee Producing Countries

Coffee is the third most consumed beverage globally. Here we visualize the countries that have the highest coffee production in the world.

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The World’s Top Coffee Producing Countries

In many cities around the world, there’s a café on every corner, so it comes as no surprise that coffee is one of the globes’ top commodities. As the third most consumed beverage globally, after water and tea, coffee beans are in high demand almost everywhere.

The top producing nations each produce billions of kilograms of coffee beans that find their way into the hands of eager consumers. According to the International Coffee Organization, a total of 169.6 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee were produced worldwide in 2020.

So, why does the world universally love coffee so much?

For The Love of Coffee

As most coffee lovers would tell you, drinking coffee is a complex and nuanced experience—there’s the rich aroma, the comforting warmth, and the loveliness of the ritual of sitting down with a fresh cup.

With the variety of ways it can be served and the jolt of caffeine it provides us, it’s not hard to see why the world loves its coffee. In fact, we love the beverage so much that humans have conditioned themselves to associate the bitter taste of coffee with a bout of energy and positive reinforcement.

So, where does the journey of each cup of joe originate? Let’s get to know the world’s top coffee producing countries.

The World’s Coffee Production Leaders

At the end of 2020, the top 10 biggest coffee-producing nations held 87% of the commodity’s market share.

Here is a list of the top 20 largest coffee-producing nations in the world:

RankCountryProduction in 2020
(Million 60-kg Bags)
Total Market Share
1🇧🇷 Brazil63.437.4%
2🇻🇳 Vietnam29.017.1%
3🇨🇴 Colombia14.38.4%
4🇮🇩 Indonesia12.07.1%
5🇪🇹 Ethiopia7.34.3%
6🇭🇳 Honduras6.13.6%
7🇮🇳 India5.73.4%
8🇺🇬 Uganda5.63.3%
9🇲🇽 Mexico4.02.4%
10🇵🇪 Peru3.82.2%
11🇬🇹 Guatemala3.72.2%
12🇳🇮 Nicaragua2.71.6%
13🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire1.81.1%
14🇨🇷 Costa Rica1.50.9%
15🇹🇿 Tanzania0.90.5%
16🇰🇪 Kenya0.70.4%
17🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea0.70.4%
18🇱🇦 Laos0.60.4%
19🇸🇻 El Salvador0.60.4%
20🇹🇭 Thailand0.60.4%

While some of the world’s top coffee-producing nations are well known, others may come as a surprise. More than 70 countries produce coffee, but the majority of global output comes from just the top five producers: Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.

Meet the Top Coffee Producing Countries

1. Brazil

Brazil is a true powerhouse of coffee production. The country single-highhandedly produces nearly 40% of the world’s coffee supply.

Many areas in Brazil have a climate perfectly conducive to coffee farming. Coffee plantations cover about 27,000 square kilometers of Brazil, with the majority located in Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Parana.

Brazil distinguishes itself from most other coffee-producing nations by drying the coffee cherries in the sun (unwashed coffee) rather than washing them.

The country is so influential to coffee production that the 60-kilogram burlap bags historically used to export beans from Brazil are still the worldwide standard for measuring production and trade.

2. Vietnam

Vietnam found a niche in the international market by focusing primarily on the less-expensive Robusta bean. Robusta beans can have up to twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, giving the coffee a more bitter taste.

Though coffee has been grown in the region for well over a century, production skyrocketed through the 1990s after Vietnam’s communist government introduced economic reforms (known as Đổi Mới).

coffee production in vietnam

Today, Vietnam accounts for more than 40% of the world’s Robusta bean production.

Coffee cultivation in Vietnam is also extremely productive. The country’s coffee yields are considerably higher than other top coffee-producing countries.

3. Colombia

A popular advertising campaign featuring a fictional coffee farmer named Juan Valdez helped brand Colombia as one of the most famous coffee-producing nations. A coveted drink of choice, Colombian coffee is prized for its aromatic, mild, and fruity flavors.

4. Indonesia

Some of the rarest coffees in the Western world originate in Indonesia, including Kopi Luwak—a type of bean that has been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. Coffee made from these coffee beans might cost you anywhere between $35 to $100 per cup.

5. Ethiopia

Known for its full-flavored, down-to-earth, and full-bodied coffee beans, Ethiopia is the country that gave us the Arabica coffee plant. Today this type of coffee is considered to be the most widely sold in cafes and restaurants across the world.

All of these top producing countries are found in the so-called “Bean Belt”, which is located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

coffee bean belt

The Future of Coffee Production

With global temperatures on the rise, good coffee may become increasingly challenging to grow. To future-proof good and continued growth of coffee beans, finding newer and hybrid blends of coffee beans is essential.

Several studies and research missions have found wild species of coffee growing off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire and in certain regions of Sierra Leone, which could be the answer to our coffee production problems. Coffee from these coffee plants tasted similar to the famous Arabica bean and also grew at higher temperatures.

Though the future of coffee production around the world is somewhat uncertain, our collective love of the morning cup of coffee will drive innovative solutions, even in the face of changing climate patterns.

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Energy

Ranked: The 50 Companies That Use the Highest Percentage of Green Energy

Which U.S. companies use the most green energy as a percentage of total energy used? Here are the 50 highest ranked companies according to the EPA.

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Which Companies Use the Most Green Energy?

Green energy was once a niche segment of the wider energy industry, but it’s quickly becoming an essential energy source in many regions and nations across the globe.

Based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this infographic by SolarPower.Guide shows the top 50 greenest companies, based on the highest proportion of green energy used in their overall consumption mix.

Leaders in Green Energy Use

As green energy becomes more affordable, some major businesses like Google, Wells Fargo, and Apple are embracing it in a big way.

It also helps that institutional investors are nudging companies in that direction anyways, especially as they become more focused on incorporating environment, social and governance (ESG) into their portfolios.

Here are the top 15 U.S. companies that use the highest percentage of green energy:

RankCompanyGreen Power useAnnual Green Power Use (kWh)
#1The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.139%91,843,084
#2Voya Financial120%40,000,000
#3BNY Mellon113%268,000,000
#4Sephora112%112,323,000
#5Bank of America109%1,855,505,589
#6Church & Dwight Co.107%159,445,000
#7Google LLC106%7,492,567,647
#8The Hartford Financial Services Group106%68,835,000
#9Wells Fargo105%1,843,545,975
#10Equinix104%2,360,296,352
#11State Street Corp.104%158,991,503
#12Aldi103%984,430,521
#13Apple Inc.101%2,202,581,271
#14Starbucks101%1,119,392,000
#15TD Bank101%210,209,954

Note: The values reflect the amount of green power as a percentage of a company’s total electricity use. Companies that purchase green power exceeding their total organization-wide electricity use will show a value greater than 100%.

Green Energy vs. Renewable Energy

The term “green energy” is often met with confusion by some and is sometimes just referred to as “renewables” by others. So, what is green energy, and how is it different from other sources of renewable energy?

Green energy is a subset of renewable energy and represents those energy sources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. The EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

Other renewable types of energy exist, but may not be considered fully green, at least as the EPA defines it. For example, while massive hydro projects provide a renewable source of energy, they can also have big impact on the environment. Same goes for non-eligible biomass—a category which includes biomass that may not be close to carbon-neutral.

Climate Commitments

In addition to the use of green power for operations, major companies are also looking at the bigger picture and setting targets to achieve carbon neutrality.

Here are a few of the major companies that have made climate commitments in the near future:

CompanyCommitmentBy Year
AppleNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
IkeaClimate Positive2030
Burger KingNet Zero Operations2030
MicrosoftNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
BBCNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
FacebookNet Zero Value Chain2030
VerizonNet Zero Carbon Emission2035
UnileverNet Zero Carbon Emission2039
Pepsi Co.Net Zero Carbon Emission2040
BPNet Zero Carbon Emission2050

This will undoubtedly impact their overall consumption and the energy mix in the years to come.

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