The emergence of cheap, versatile plastics “wherever we look has resulted in a global flood of plastic waste,” according to a study released to the US federal government on Wednesday, and the United States is behind most disposable plastics thrown into the sea threatening aquatic life.
The amount of plastic waste in the United States has risen sharply since the 1960s, reaching 42 million tons per year, or 130 kilograms per capita, according to the latest figures.
Read the online edition of the British daily The Guardian. This is nearly double the amount of plastic waste in China and more than all plastic waste in the 28 countries of the European Union at the time of the report.
Recycling infrastructure cannot keep pace with the growth in plastic production in the United States. Disposing of plastic waste, including bottles, straws, packaging materials, landfills and improper use of landfills, may release up to 2.2 million tons of plastic annually, according to the report. Due to the lack of data for trash tracking, the real amount may be greater. Much of the plastic enters the oceans through rivers.
At least 8.8 million tons of plastic trash are released into the world’s oceans every year, which is like a garbage truck full of trash dumped into salt water every minute. If the current trend continues, the volume could jump to 53 million tons per year by 2030, nearly half the weight of fish caught annually in the world’s oceans.
The report, which was commissioned by the US Congress to the National Academies of Science, Technology, and Medicine, was compiled by a group of experts led by Margaret Spring (Monterey Bay Aquarium). The committee recommends the development of a new national strategy by the end of next year, which should seek to reduce the production of plastics, especially those that are not suitable for reuse.
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