This year the Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Year was 90.5%, the amount of plastic that has never been recycled. About 90.5% of all the plastic waste ever produced is the equivalent of 7.2 trillion grocery bags full of plastic. Assuming that a grocery bag of plastic is about 1 foot high, if you stacked the grocery bags, you could go to the moon and back 5,790 times. Because one of those grocery bags would contain about $1 worth of plastic material production, 7.2 trillion grocery bags is equal to $7.2 trillion. With $7.2 trillion, you could buy Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Walmart, Exxon, GM, AT&T, Facebook, Bank of America, all the NFL teams, and all the MLB teams. This year, I served on the judging panel for The Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Year . On Dec. 18, we announced the winner: 90.5% , the amount of plastic that has never been recycled. Okay — but why is that such a big deal? Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s "Word of the Year" competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this year. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community […]

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