Throwaway plastic has found its way into almost every aspect of our lives: from the disposable coffee cup you pick up on the way to work or the straw in your smoothie, to the hidden fibres woven into wet wipes and tiny glittering fragments in make-up.
Of the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic we’ve thrown away since we started mass-producing it in the 1950s, just 600 million tonnes has been recycled – and 4.9 billion tonnes has been sent to landfill or left in the natural environment.
While awareness of the detrimental impact plastic can have on the environment has exploded in recent years, environmentally friendly alternatives are only now picking up steam. As single-use plastics bans come in around the world – next year in the UK, and by 2021 in Canada – new materials are going to become ever more important. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?