Recycling in statistics

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) holds an annual award for statistics (of course). This year’s Statistics of the Year (SOTY) related to plastic waste and the use of solar energy – the winners of this year’s International and UK categories respectively.

For plastic waste, the winning figure was that 90.5 per cent has never been recycled. Estimated at 6,300m metric tonnes, it was estimated that around 12 per cent of all plastic waste has been incinerated, with roughly 79 per cent accumulating in either landfill or the natural environment (as sourced from Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made by R Geyer, J R Jambeck and K Lavender Law).

“It’s very concerning that such a large proportion of plastic waste has never been recycled”, said RSS president, Sir David Spiegelhalter, who chaired the SOTY judging panel. “This statistic helps to show the scale of the challenge we all face. It has rightly been named the RSS’s ‘International Statistic of the Year’ for 2018.”

The winner of the UK Statistic of 2018 is the peak percentage of all electricity produced in the UK due to solar power on 30 June this year – which was 27.8 per cent. This figure reflects that fact that solar power was, while only briefly, the country’s number one electricity source - ahead of gas (sourced from Electric Insights).

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