In a new study, the USA has been appointed one of the very best resources of plastic contamination in the sea and coastal environments worldwide. For several decades, the tradition of exporting plastic waste has concealed the nation’s major contribution to the plastic contamination catastrophe, especially in developing countries in Southeast Asia. The researchers state the findings call into question previously-held assumptions which the planet’s biggest market has adequate recycling and management methods to contain its tremendous waste footprint.
Released from the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, fresh research has shown the U.S. is a significant contributor to sea plastic contamination, standing as large as third-place internationally. The study accounts for that the nation’s scrap vinyl exports and the most recent figures on illegal dumping and littering, and its consequences are in stark contrast to previous research indicating the U.S. ranks 20th in the world, overturning past misconceptions which the nation has sufficient waste management infrastructure set up.
“For decades, a lot of this plastic we’ve set to the blue bin was exported for recycling to nations that struggle to control their waste, let alone the huge amounts delivered by the U.S.,” said lead author of this newspaper Dr. Kara Lavender Law, a research professor of oceanography in Sea Education Association.
“If you think about how much of our plastic waste is not recyclable since it’s low-value, contaminated or hard to process, it is not surprising that a good deal of it ends up damaging the environment”
“Past research has offered global significance for plastic enter to the environment and coastal locations, but comprehensive analyses similar to this one are essential for individual nations to further evaluate their gifts,” additional co-author Dr. Jenna Jambeck, distinguished professor in the University of Georgia. “It’s critically important that we analyze our backyard and take accountability for our worldwide plastic footprint”
The research also estimated that between 2-3percent of plastic waste generated from the U.S. was thrown or littered to the surroundings domestically. Though the percentage seems to be modest, it possibly means 1.25 million metric tons of plastic were hauled into the sea and land.
When coupled with the large number of plastic waste exported to overseas nations, the U.S. accounts for around 2.25 million metric tons of plastic contamination, of which 1.5 million metric tons end up polluting precious coastal surroundings.
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— HBCU Green Fund (@HBCUGreenFund) November 5, 2020
“The U.S. creates the maximum plastic waste of almost any other nation on the planet, but instead of looking the issue from the eye, we’ve outsourced it into developing nations and become a leading contributor to the sea plastics catastrophe,” stated co-author of this research Nick Mallos, senior manager of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program.
The researchers emphasize it is now critical for the nation, especially in its position as the world’s biggest market, to take responsibility for its plastic waste. Pointing out that generally, Americans create almost two times as much plastic waste per capita compared to their European counterparts, Mallos claims this to make progress on the worldwide plastic catastrophe, the”alternative must begin at home”.
“We will need to produce less, by cutting unnecessary single-use plastics; we will need to produce better, by creating innovative new ways to pack and deliver products; and in which plastics are unavoidable, we will need to radically improve our recycling prices.”
Natalie Starr, chief in DSM Environmental Services and co-author of the study included: “We will need to modify the mathematics by investing in recycling technology and set applications, in addition to accelerating development and research to enhance the performance and drive down the prices of more sustainable packaging and plastics options to deal with the present challenge.”