Chart of Mismanaged Plastic Waste
The amount of plastic debris that ends up in the oceans from the land is mostly determined by population size living within 50km of a coast and by the amount of plastic waste that is mismanaged—either littered or disposed into uncontained dumps or landfills.
A 2020 study shows that in "2016, the United States generated the largest amount of plastic waste of any country in the world (42.0 Mt). Between 0.14 and 0.41 Mt of this waste was illegally dumped in the United States, and 0.15 to 0.99 Mt was inadequately managed in countries that imported materials collected in the United States for recycling. Accounting for these contributions, the amount of plastic waste generated in the United States estimated to enter the coastal environment in 2016 was up to five times larger than that estimated for 2010, rendering the United States' contribution among the highest in the world."
"The United States Contribution of Plastic Waste to Land and Ocean", October 2020, Law, Kara, et. al; www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abd0288
Sign up for EARTH Dispatches
Enter you email below to get jaw dropping charts and maps delivered straight to your inbox.
Get the EARTH presentation
A 150 page high-resolution PDF containing all maps, charts and data on EARTH website; use as an information-packed educational slide show, printed booklet or a set of single-page handouts.Learn More