Plastic waste in our oceans is a growing problem that affects not just marine life, but also human health and the global economy. To better understand the distribution of plastic pollution around the world, a team of researchers has visualized the amount of plastic waste generated by different countries and how much of it ends up in the ocean.
Using data from 2010 to 2020, the researchers estimated the annual plastic waste generated by each country and calculated their mismanaged plastic waste, which is the amount of plastic that is not properly disposed of and can therefore end up in the ocean. They then mapped these figures to show the relative contribution of each country to the global plastic pollution problem.
The results show that the top five countries that generate the most plastic waste are China, the United States, India, Japan, and Indonesia. Together, they account for more than half of the world's annual plastic waste. However, when it comes to mismanaged plastic waste, the rankings change, with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam topping the list.
The researchers also found that the amount of plastic waste generated by a country does not necessarily correlate with its mismanaged plastic waste. For example, the United States generates more plastic waste than Indonesia, but Indonesia has a higher mismanaged plastic waste percentage. This suggests that different countries have different levels of waste management infrastructure and policies.
The visualization highlights the need for global action to address the plastic pollution problem. While individual actions such as reducing plastic use and properly disposing of waste can help, systemic change is also necessary to address the root causes of the issue. This includes improving waste management infrastructure, promoting sustainable production and consumption practices, and holding companies accountable for their plastic waste.