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These 5 Countries Account for 60% of Plastic Pollution in Oceans
Roughly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the world's oceans every year, and according to a new study, the majority of this waste comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Why are these parts of Asia leaking so much plastic? Well, as the study suggests, these emerging countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, reduced poverty and improved quality of life. This development is, of course, fantastic. However, as these economies grow, so does the consumer use of plastic and plastic-intensive goods.
The caveat of this increased plastic demand is that these countries do not yet have waste-management infrastructures that can tackle the accompanying excess waste.
It makes sense then, as Fast Company observed from the study, that global ocean plastic clean-up efforts should initially be concentrated in these areas.
"Specifically, interventions in these five countries could reduce global plastic-waste leakage by approximately 45 percent over the next ten years," the report says.
The study's authors came up with the five best approaches (out of 21) to address plastic waste, customized for each country: collection services, closing leakage points in collection facilities, gasification (converting waste into fuel) and MRF-recylcing (diverting plastic from the waste stream).
"This study outlines a path that can generate considerable benefits to communities, preserve the bio-productivity of the ocean, and reduce risks for industry," the report says. "Concerted action in the form of a $5 billion annual ramp-up in waste-management spending could create a vibrant secondary resource market, trigger investment in packaging and recovery systems, and let the ocean thrive."
"Of course, extending these interventions to other countries could have even more impact on this global issue," the report points out.
Plastic waste in the Philippines, for instance, is having "drastic consequences on the livelihoods and health of the people of Dagupan," said city mayor Belen Fernandez in a press release for the study.
“Our town has had a dump site on our beach for over 50 years," he continued about the coastal Philippine city. "We're working hard to close the dump, and increase the capacity of waste management in Dagupan. Addressing the problem of ocean plastic will have real benefits for not just the environment, but for our citizens—by improving their quality of life. I hope our city and our work will become a model for what's possible around the world."
Andreas Merkl, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, said in a statement that the study is the first to outline a specific path forward for the reduction and ultimate elimination of plastic waste in the oceans.
“The report's findings confirm what many have long thought—that ocean plastic solutions actually begin on land. It will take a coordinated effort of industry, NGOs and government to solve this growing economic and environmental problem," he said.
Check out some of the Ocean Conservancy's infographics on the issue below:
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Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.