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International Statistic of 2018: 90.5 Percent of Plastic Waste Never Recycled

The winning International Statistic of 2018 is 90.5%: the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled. The UK Statistic of 2018 is 27.8%: the peak percentage of all electricity produced in the United Kingdom from solar power on June 30, 2018.

The Royal Statistical Society has announced 2018's Statistics of the Year, with two environmental winners among them -- one depressingly bad and the other encouraging. The two concern plastic waste and the use of solar energy, winning the International and UK categories, respectively.

The winning International Statistic of 2018 is 90.5%: the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled. "Estimated at 6,300 million metric tonnes, it's thought that around 12% of all plastic waste has been incinerated, with roughly 79% 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)," the society noted Dec. 17.

"It's very concerning that such a large proportion of plastic waste has never been recycled," said the society's president, Sir David Spiegelhalter, who chaired the Stats of the Year 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."

Winning as the UK Statistic of 2018 is 27.8%: the peak percentage of all electricity produced in the United Kingdom from solar power on June 30, 2018. "This surprising 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)," the society reported.

Dame Jil Matheson, the former National Statistician who was also on the judging panel, called the solar power statistic "‘a very welcome figure," adding, "2018 was a landmark year for solar-generated electricity in the UK - as well as for renewable energy more generally."

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