Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Drowning in plastic

A while back I praised a piece by Reuters showing the scale of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh. A few days ago, Reuters graphics launched a similar project revealing “the world’s addiction to plastic bottles”.

Marco Hern√°ndez, one of the authors, told me that he modeled a plastic bottle in Cinema 4D, and then transformed it into a particle that the software could duplicate at the required pace hundreds of thousands of times.

3D software such as Cinema 4D lets you simulate real-world forces such as wind or gravity. Maya, the tool I use, has similar capabilities; that's how I designed this virtual Galton quincunx a while ago. Marco said that it took nearly a week to render the opening animation.

I really like the pictorial comparisons in the piece. This is what would happen if we could pile up the 4 trillion bottles of water consumed worldwide in the past decade:

The story says:
The plastic bottles sold worldwide since 2009 would tower above New York’s Manhattan Island. Data from Euromonitor International shows that more than 480 billion of these bottles were sold last year alone. The 2018 annual figure of almost 482 billion is up more than 50% since 2009. The pile visualised below is around 2.4 km high and dwarfs the glittering skyscrapers of the Financial District at the tip of Lower Manhattan.