We’re the biggest contributor to the waste problem, per new NAS analysis commissioned by Congress
There’s a “deluge” of plastic mucking up the Earth’s oceans, with the United States serving as the biggest contributor to it. That’s according to a new National Academy of Sciences report ordered by Congress that’s imploring the US to come up with a plan to halt the issue in its tracks, or at least to slow it down, reports the Washington Post. According to the nearly 200-page deep dive into the matter, the US produced 42 million metric tons (MMT) of plastic waste in 2016, which was nearly twice as much as China and more than all the member states in the EU combined. Because most plastics are derived from fossil fuels, it can take hundreds of years for some of them to break down.
“The developing plastic waste crisis has been building for decades,” the analysis notes. “The success of the 20th-century miracle invention of plastics has also produced a global scale deluge of plastic waste seemingly everywhere we look.” The numbers suss out to 287 pounds of plastic per American, with about 8 MMT of waste ending up in the oceans annually—”the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck of plastic waste into the ocean every minute,” per the report. It adds that if the trend continues, the world’s seas could be taking in up to 53 MMT per year by 2030, or “roughly half of the total weight of fish caught from the ocean annually.”
The upshot of all this, notes the Hill: The US has to not only work on cleanup efforts but also slash its plastic production to save the oceans of the world, per the report, which notes the nation’s current recycling program is “grossly inefficient.” Margaret Spring, the head of conservation and science for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and chair of the NAS committee that produced the report, tells the Post that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency would be the best options to lead this charge. And if the United States, and the rest of the world, don’t take strong action against such waste? “Plastics will continue to accumulate in the environment, particularly the ocean, with adverse consequences for ecosystems and society,” the report notes. (Read more water pollution stories.)
Source – (NEWSER)