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PARIS (AFP) – It is the worst enemy of environmental campaigners, but people around the world use mountains of plastic every day and business is booming for manufacturers.

Much to the chagrin of activists, an increasingly restrictive regulatory environment appears to have put little dent in the industry’s power so far. That is changing, however, and plastic giants are starting to adapt.

From 2006 to 2016, global plastic output rose from 245 million to 348 million tonnes, according to the PlasticsEurope trade association. Production rose by 3.9 per cent in 2017. In 2016, the growth rate stood at 4 per cent, and in 2015, 3.5 per cent.

Demand for thermoplastics alone – which includes the most common kinds of plastic, such as PET used in water bottles, polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC – has soared by 4.7 per cent yearly from 1990 to 2017.

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