Thailand key contributor to plastic in world’s oceans

ABOVE: A dog surrounded by rubbish in Chiang Mai. Photo Cynthia Chang 

Thailand is one of five Asian countries responsible for the majority of plastic found in the world’s oceans, says a new report.

Ocean Conservancy, a US-based NGO, says eight million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year, adding to the estimated 150 million tonnes there already.

Over half of the plastic coming into the ocean comes from five Asian countries – China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, in order of magnitude.

That’s because these countries have been rapidly developing in recent years and consumer demand for safe, disposable products is outstripping their waste management infrastructure capabilities.

Plastic waste in the ocean is dangerous because it breaks down into small fragments that float around for hundreds of years, and are often mistaken for food by a range of marine species from zooplankton to whales, ending up in the food chain.

Scientists are still studying the implications on human health, but this means we would be exposed to not just the plastic fragments, but also the toxic pollutants in the sea that the plastic absorbs.

If this continues, the NGO says there could be a whopping 250 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean by 2025. That’s about one tonne of plastic per three tonnes of fish in the ocean.

Ocean Conservancy has outlined measures that it says Thailand and the other Asian countries could take to reduce the amount of plastic pollution by a massive 65 per cent.

Let’s hope they’re listening.

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