Folks in England were stunned and dismayed when they found out that testing of local river waters had much higher concentrations of microplastics than the previous hot spot, South Korean beaches. Textiles were the suspected cause.
There are bioplastics made out of wood pulp derivatives, they tend to break down in the environment easier. Hard to beat the price of fossil based plastics. Oil companies realize that the markets for fossil fuels could decline so they are investing in making more plastics. BTW plastics can be readly converted back to transportation fuels it just cost more than drilling a hole in the ground. Throw in carbon taxes and the plastics issues changes radically.
It's a changing scenario. #1&2 plastics are quite recyclable (or downcyclable) and therefor have value and processors in the US and Canada. #6 is also pretty recyclable. The others now are mostly landfilled or incinerated if they are not turned into fuel. Quantities are still being shipped to third world countries, but that is a messy process that is being curtailed in many countries because of the rampant pollution created.Wait...does any country take recyclables anymore? I heard China cut us off for being messy. I don't think we're paying folks in this country to clean food and other muck off recyclables.
That is a somewhat fallacious question. Plastics are cheap to make, and often offer cheap packaging solutions, but the actual costs of plastics to the taxpayer, the environment, and life itself are now becoming huge. Remember that the ubiquity of plastics in packaging is a new problem, only gaining steam for the past 30 yrs. But the results are now ever-present in the environment and the tolls are getting high. We are all breathing, eating and drinking plastics as they break down into micro and nanoparticles.