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2018 statistic of the year: Plastic waste fact tops list


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A fact about plastic waste – which has repeatedly made headlines this year – has been named 2018’s stat of the year

Two facts about the environment have been named as 2018’s best statistics.

The list – from the Royal Statistical Society – also included figures about Kylie Jenner, Jaffa Cakes and trains.

The winning international statistic of the year was 90.5% – the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled.

And in the UK category, the top stat was 28.7% – the highest percentage of all electricity generated by solar power in one day.

Solar power became the UK’s number one source of electricity – beating gas and nuclear – on 30 June, during the heatwave.

“The statistics on this list capture some of the zeitgeist of 2018,” said the executive director of the Royal Statistical Society, Hetan Shah.

A panel of judges picked the two winners, along with several highly commended statistics – from more than 200 nominations.

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A billion dollar figure related to reality TV star Kylie Jenner also made the list of 2018’s best stats

The environment and plastic waste has repeatedly made headlines in 2018, and “single-use” – referring to plastic waste – was named the word of the year.

Other highly commended statistics include:

  • $1.3 billion: the amount lost from the value of Snapchat within a day after Kylie Jenner tweeted: “Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?”
  • 85.9%: the proportion of British trains that ran on time – the lowest for more than a decade
  • 40%: the percentage of Russian men who do not live to the age of 65
  • 64,946: the number of measles cases in Europe from November 2017 to October 2018
  • 82%: the percentage of all British retail shopping that is still in-store rather than online
  • 16.7%: the percentage reduction of the number of Jaffa Cakes in the McVities’ Christmas tube
  • 6.4%: the percentage of female executive directors within FTSE 250 companies

In 2017 – the first year that the Royal Statistical Society ran their competition to highlight fake news and the power of numbers – the statistic of the year was 0.1% – the percentage of the UK land area that is densely built upon.

Entries for 2018 were submitted earlier this year. Judges on the panel included Dame Jil Matheson, former national statistician – the top adviser to the government on official statistics – as well as RSS president Sir David Spiegelhalter, BBC home editor Mark Easton and the Guardian’s US data editor Mona Chalabi.



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