POST TIME: 2 December, 2021 03:32:56 PM
United States is world's biggest plastic polluter: report
BSS/AFP, Washington

United States is world's biggest plastic polluter: report

The United States is by far the largest contributor to global plastic waste in the world, according to a new report submitted Wednesday to the federal government, which called for a national strategy to tackle the growing crisis.

Overall, the US contributed about 42 million metric tons (MMT) of plastic waste in 2016 – twice as much as China and more than EU countries, according to the analysis.

On average, each American generates 130 kilograms (286 pounds) of plastic waste per year, with Britain on the list at 99 kilograms per capita per year, followed by South Korea at 88 kilograms per year.

Titled “Reckoning with the US Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste,” the report was mandated by Congress as part of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, which became law in December 2020.

“The success of the wondrous invention of plastics of the 20th century has caused the global deluge of plastic waste that we see,” wrote Margaret Spring, chief science officer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, of the committee of experts that compiled the report. Under the leadership of.

He said global plastic waste was an “environmental and social crisis” that affected inland and coastal communities, polluted rivers, lakes and beaches, placed an economic burden on communities, endangered wildlife and contaminated water humans depend on for food. .

The report said that global plastic production increased from 20 million metric tons in 1966 to 381 MMT in 2015, a 20-fold increase in half a century.

The report said that initially the focus on ocean waste was only ship and marine-based sources, but it is now known that almost any plastic on land has the potential to reach the oceans via rivers and streams.

Research has shown that about a thousand species of marine life are susceptible to plastic entanglement or ingestion of microplastics, which then make their way back to humans via the food web.

The report said an estimated 8 MMT of plastic waste enters the world annually, “equivalent to dumping a truckload of plastic waste into the ocean every minute.”

At current rates, the amount of plastic released into the ocean could reach 53 MMT per year by 2030, which is about half the total weight of ocean-caught fish annually.

Part of the reason for this is that municipal solid waste production has exploded, especially since the 1980s, recycling has not scaled up, resulting in more and more plastic finding its way into landfills.

The report offered a number of steps to address the crisis – the first among them, reducing virgin plastic production, for example by establishing a national cap.


Reduce single-use plastic

Other suggested actions include using materials that degrade more quickly and are more easily recycled, reduction of some single-use plastics, and better waste management, such as removing microplastics from wastewater. technology of.

Improving waste capture technology will stop plastics in waterways, while preventing the disposal of plastics directly into the ocean is also a priority.

Data collection is also an important priority, the report said, calling on the US to set up tracking and monitoring systems to identify waste sources and hotspots.

The authors called on the country to develop its national strategy by the end of 2022.

“This is the most comprehensive and damaging report on plastic pollution ever published,” said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics nonprofit.

“This is a code red for plastics in the ocean and documents how litter cleaning is not going to save the ocean,” she continued, adding that it was imperative that policy makers and business leaders read the report and take action.

Christy Levitt, Oceana’s Plastics Campaign Director, said, “Finger-pointing has stopped. We can no longer ignore the role of the United States in the plastic pollution crisis, which is one of the biggest challenges facing our oceans and our planet today.” one of the environmental hazards.”