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This is not a list you want to top. In 2010, “between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic entered the oceans — the median of those estimates is 1.3 times the weight of the Great Pyramid at Giza,” reports Tim McDonell on motherjones.com. That’s from a new study published by Science.
According to the study, the Philippines placed third with a little over 1 billion pounds of plastic dumped in the ocean in 2010. China topped the study, dumping nearly 5 billion pounds of plastic in the ocean. Indonesia, which dumped nearly 2 million pounds of plastic is the second worst offender. Check out the chart, also published by Motherjones.com, below:
The study, which was led by University of Georgia environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck, “set out to calculate how much plastic the world’s 192 coastal countries dumps in the ocean. They combined data on each country’s per-capita waste generation, the size of the population living within 50 kilometers of the ocean, the percentage of waste that is plastic, and the percentage of plastic waste that is “mismanaged.”
UPDATE (10:50am, Feb 16): A thoughtful Coconaut countered this story on Twitter with a link to a Business Mirror editorial. “The report tries to estimate the amount of waste plastic that is being dumped into the world’s ocean. But there is the problem,” the Business Mirror editorial reads.
The editorial continues: “Even naming the Philippines as the number three plastics polluter is somewhat of a farce. The pollution data is based on the amount of plastic products produced in a country and then an arbitrary percentage is assigned as to how much of that plastic might-note the word ‘might’- find its way into the oceans. The list of “polluters” was based on the number of people living within 50 miles of an ocean coastline therefore assuming that these people dump their plastics in the sea.
“Guess which large nation has the greatest ‘Coastline to land area ratio’ on the planet–the Philippines. And Indonesia and PHL rank number 1 and 2 respectively for having the longest coastlines not facing the Arctic region like Russia and Canada.”
This raises a thoughtful point, indeed. But while Business Mirror thinks that “scare tactics like this based on faulty analysis serve no purpose to motivate and mobilize public action,” we think it’s always a good time to start cleaning up our act.
Photo: EPA / plastic-pollution.org