Millions of tons of plastic trash have been flowing into the world’s oceans each year, and a new study finds that much of it is coming from China and developing economies in Asia. The new study published in the journal Science has estimated that China’s costal population that is filled to the brim with residences contributes 1.3 million to 3.5 million metric tons of plastic into the oceans each year due to mismanaged waste.
Some other countries in the top ten waste contributors are Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh. The study estimates that 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic wound up in the world’s oceans in 2010. “Our low-end estimate is equivalent to the amount of tuna fished from the ocean in a single year,” said oceanographer Kara Lavender Law of the Sea Education Assn. in Woods Hole, Mass., the study’s senior author. “We are taking out tuna and putting in plastic.”
According to The LA Times, “For the new study, researchers focused on plastic discarded from coastal population areas,” and found that “the amount of plastic waste grew by 0.19% per year since 2005,” despite not having increased too much between the 1980s and the early 2000s. This significant increase is what has researchers and environmentalists very concerned about the future of our oceans.
The worst part? If we keep going about this way, and no changes are made the number is set to double by 2025. The top 20 waste contributing countries are all developing with densely populated coasts outside of the United States, which came in at number 20 on the list. The overall number worldwide is shocking. “This is equivalent to five large trash bags full of plastic trash, for every foot of coastline in the world,” says study co-author Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia.