According to a new report, the US is responsible for most of the world's plastic waste, with well over 40 million tons per year. The authors of the study call for urgent action.
Around 8 million tons of plastic waste enter the environment worldwide every year.
The oceans in particular are increasingly polluted with non-decomposing plastic.
The waste is distributed all over the world.
That's what it is
A new survey shows the extent of environmental pollution by plastic waste on.
The US tops the list of the worst polluters.
By 2030, the amount of plastic that is added each year in the oceans could equal half of all fish catches by weight.
According to a US study, the USA is the largest producer of plastic waste worldwide. In total, the USA produced around 42 million tons of plastic waste in 2016 – around twice as much as China and more than all of the 28 European Union countries put together at the time, wrote the authors of the expert report that was presented to the US government on Wednesday. The authors urged the government to act.
According to the report, each US citizen generated an average of 130 kilograms of plastic waste per year in 2016. It was followed by Great Britain with just under 99 kilograms per capita and South Korea with a good 88 kilograms per year. In China it was therefore just under 16 kilograms per capita; Germany is listed in the report with a good 81 kilograms per capita for 2016. The EU average including Great Britain was around 55.5 kilos per citizen.
“The success of the miraculous invention of plastic in the 20th century has also led to a global flood of plastic waste,” wrote the chairwoman of the expert committee convened by the US Congress, Margaret Spring. The global plastic production rose from 20 million tons in 1966 to 381 million tons in 2015 – a 20-fold increase within half a century.
Amount of plastic waste soon to be half as large as global fish catches
According to the report, an estimated eight million tons of plastic waste enter the environment annually. That corresponds to one garbage truck per minute dumping its load into the sea. At the current rate, the amount of plastic in the sea could reach 53 million tons annually by 2030, which would be around half the total weight of the fish caught annually from the sea. One of the reasons for this is that plastic recycling is not keeping pace with plastic production.
The report proposes a number of measures to deal with the crisis. It is particularly important to produce less new plastic. Other proposed measures are the use of materials that degrade more quickly and are easier to recycle, the reduction of certain single-use plastics and improved waste management, for example through techniques for removing microplastics from sewage.
«This is the most comprehensive and most devastating report on plastic pollution ever published », said the president of the environmental organization Beyond Plastics, Judith Enk. Collecting rubbish in the sea will not save the oceans, she said. Policy makers need to act urgently.
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