(ORDO NEWS) — Plastic bottles, toys and other products began to be produced only about 50 years ago. But this time was enough for plastic debris to fill not only land, but also water spaces. This material retains its shape for thousands of years and enters the organisms of animals, causing their extinction. It penetrates into human organisms in the form of microscopic particles, which can also be dangerous. Plastic waste is produced by almost all countries, without exception, but there are record holders among them.
For example, in 2016, the United States produced approximately 42 million tons of plastic waste, and this figure is constantly increasing. But is the US really so careless about the environment and in general – how much garbage do other countries produce? Let’s figure it out.
Danger of plastic
Since the middle of the 20th century, people began to actively use plastic as a material for the manufacture of dishes, toys and many other things. The plastic was good because it was lightweight, flexible, and inexpensive. Due to the low cost, plastic products are thrown into the trash without hesitation, from where they enter the natural environment. There, plastic waste cannot completely decompose for a thousand years, so it accumulates in tons in landfills and ends up in the seas and oceans.
The latter phenomenon worries ecologists the most, because animals get confused or swallow trash, which can lead to the extinction of entire species. Plastic enters the human body in the form of microscopic particles less than 5 millimeters in size. The World Health Organization considers microplastics to be harmless, but there is no convincing evidence for this yet.
In 2016, employees of the Sea Education Association conducted a study that found out how much plastic waste is produced in the United States annually. In their calculations, they used information about how the United States manages the waste it produces. They took into account data provided by the World Bank, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others. Ultimately, it turned out that 42 million tons of plastic waste was produced in the United States in one year. This is an absolute record among all countries.
But this does not mean that the United States is bad about the environment. There are at least two explanations for the millions of tons of plastic waste. First, the United States is the most active in producing plastic products that are thrown into the trash after use. Secondly, the waste sent to China and Hong Kong for further processing is disposed of in landfills by third parties. According to data for 2016, over the entire history of observations, 242 million tons of plastic waste have accumulated on our planet. The scientific journal Science Advances says about 17.3% of this junk belongs to the United States.
The Sea Education Association did not share information on the damage caused by other countries. But this data was shared in 2019 by USA Today, citing updated data from the World Bank. It is important to note that statistics are not only about plastic waste, but about all garbage in general. The rating is compiled on the basis of how many tons of garbage there is for each inhabitant of a particular country.
Top 10 garbage producing countries:
- Canada (36 tons per person);
- Bulgaria (26.7 tons);
- US (26 tons);
- Estonia (23.5 tons);
- Finland (16.6 tons);
- Armenia (16.3 tons);
- Sweden (16.2 tons);
- Luxembourg (11.8 tons)
- Ukraine (10.6 tons);
- Serbia (8.9 tons).
It is difficult to believe in such indicators, but, most likely, it is. Pay attention to how much trash you generate each day. For some people, the bin fills up in 24 hours. And that’s not counting how much garbage we throw out on the street every day. The most interesting thing is that Russia is not among the main waste producers. However, according to statistics, every year we produce 60 million tons of waste. But again, this is not only about plastic – we mainly throw away food, as well as paper and glass products.
Ultimately, the United States can be considered the main source of plastic pollution on the planet. But again, note that the problem is not neglect of nature. It’s just a big country that is still not cutting back on the use of plastic in industry. In Russia, plastic is also popular and very few people are going to give it up. But in France, Thailand, Georgia and a number of other countries, plastic bags are already banned.
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