Even our garbage is made in China!
So says a study published online recently in the journal Science. The study, apparently the first worldwide estimate of where the ocean’s plastic garbage comes from, reveals that China’s heavily coastal population contributes as much as 3.5 million metric tons of plastic trash to the world’s oceans each year, primarily because of mismanaged waste.
Eight of the top 10 most egregious ocean-trashers were in Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri-Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh. The study estimated that between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic entered the world’s oceans in 2010 alone.
An oceanographer from the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts stated, “Our low-end estimate is equivalent to the amount of tuna fished from the ocean in a single year. We are taking out tuna and putting in plastic.” A University of Georgia environmental engineer, a co-author of the study, added that even the middle range, or 8 million metric tons, “is the same as five (trash) bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.”
The study noted that few of the top contributing countries have adequate infrastructure for handling trash disposal. That would be stating the obvious. The United States contributes between 40,000 and 110,000 metric tons per year, ranking 20th, the study found.
While these are very broad estimates and I don’t have great faith in the accuracy of a couple of the studies claims, it is unquestionably disturbing to have so much trash despoiling the planet’s oceans.
The U.S. is to shoulder the burden of reducing carbon emissions even as many of the rest of the planet’s top (or soon-to-be top) carbon emitters get a free pass as “developing nations.”
If our most plastic of Presidents previous remarks touting his deep concern for polluting the planet in any way are not to be proven to be so much… garbage…he needs to hold China- and others- accountable for cleaning up their act.
And our oceans.