U.S Ocean Plastic Pollution: Causes of Increasing Problems

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The U.S. is your No. 1 generator of plastic waste on the planet and as large as the No. 3 generator of sea plastic waste.

That is the finding of a new study published in Science Advances last Friday that sought to paint a more precise image of the U.S. donation to the plastic catastrophe. While previous studies had indicated that Asian nations were in charge of the majority of sea plastics, the new analysis upends this premise by taking into consideration the plastic the U.S. ships overseas.

“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 USA,” lead author and Sea Education Association professor of oceanography Dr. Kara Lavender Law stated in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. “And if you think about just how much of our plastic waste is not recyclable since it’s low-value, polluted or hard to process, it is not surprising that many of it ends up damaging the environment”

It’s long been proven that the U.S. generates lots and a lot of plastic, but the premise was that this plastic has been efficiently managed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), by way of instance, reports that 75.4 per cent of plastic waste is landfilled, 15.3 per cent is incinerated and 9.3 per cent is recycled, which suggests that U.S. vinyl is accounted for. However, this doesn’t take into consideration illegal littering or exactly what occurs when the plastic is collected for recycling, the study authors pointed out. A 2010 study rated the U.S. 20th concerning its general contribution to sea plastic contamination. However, that study also didn’t think about the plastic the U.S. exported to developing nations.

 

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The brand new study concluded the U.S. generated around 42 million metric tons of plastic in 2016. Of those U.S. plastic collected for recycling, over half of it had been sent abroad, and 88 per cent of the has been to nations that struggle to satisfactorily recycle. Further, 15 to 25 per cent of it had been contaminated or poor excellent plastic which would be exceedingly tough to recycle anyhow. These statistics imply that the U.S. is polluting coasts in overseas nations with up to a million tons of plastic.

What’s more, the newspaper estimated that between 0.98 and 1.26 million metric tons of plastic were littered or dumped inside the U.S. In total, the authors estimated that the U.S. additional as numerous as 2.25 million metric tons of plastic into the surroundings in 2016 and around 1.5 million metric tons of plastic to coastal ecosystems. Employing the top quotes for vinyl waste, this could place the U.S. as No. 3 about the overall contribution to marine plastic pollution.

“Past research has offered worldwide values for plastic enter to the environment and coastal locations, but comprehensive analyses similar to this are essential for individual nations to further evaluate their gifts,” study coauthor and Distinguished Professor in the University of Georgia’s College of Engineering Dr. Jenna Jambeck stated in the press release. “In the event of the USA, it’s critically important that we analyze our backyard and take accountability for our worldwide plastic footprint”

The Analysis was based on 2016 plastic waste information from the World Bank and added U.S. information and has been gathered and examined from the Sea Education Association, DSM Environmental Services, the University of Georgia, and the Ocean Conservancy.

Greenpeace, which wasn’t involved in the analysis, noted in a press release emailed to EcoWatch that a number of the very same writers had led to some 2015 research that also looked in the origins of sea plastic contamination. That study, Greenpeace claimed, was misinterpreted by governments and corporations to set the responsibility for the sea vinyl catastrophe on Asian nations.

 

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“For decades, governments and corporations in the North have scapegoated nations in Asia for its plastic contamination catastrophe,” Greenpeace USA Global Plastics job leader Graham Forbes stated in the press release. “This thorough study today shows that the USA has generated greater plastic waste compared to any other nation, and an immense quantity of this ends up in our surroundings. This demonstrates the recycling infrastructure debate we see from the business is a ruse. Vinyl manufacturers and major consumer products companies have contended that if we simply build up recycling infrastructure in Africa and Asia, we then could keep on churning out single-use vinyl. The U.S. includes a comparatively strong waste infrastructure, however an estimated five times as much plastic contamination entered the seas in 2016 than in 2010. The U.S. should quit blaming other nations for its issue and give up its dependence on jelqing plastic”

Correction: A previous version of the article mistakenly said the U.S. has been the top generator of plastic contamination. In Reality, the U.

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