USA contributes ~1% to ocean plastic garbage

Posted by  $  HeroWorship 3 years, 5 months ago to Science
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Hey y'all. Saw a news report on ocean plastic garbage. Got curious about how much of that garbage is from USA and did some research. Found report in Science magazine in Feb 2015 that is the source of a wide range of other reporting on the subject. This report is one of the most respected data sources on the topic.
Thought y'all might find my work helpful.
abstract -
full article -…/C…/Science-2015...
(not paywalled)
supplementary material (methods and general source data) -…/11/347.62...
(not paywalled)
Some "facts" from the report (which are gross estimates):
1. USA is the 20th largest contributor to oceanic plastic garbage.
2. However, the USA only contributes just under 1% of the garbage - with 9% of coastal population, this means a very low per capita % contribution from USA residents.
3. by 2025, the total amount of oceanic plastic garbage will almost double, while USA will increase 22% - meaning its contribution will drop to about 0.1%.
4. The USA has 2% of its waste "mismanaged" - this is the key number that leads to the 1% figure.
The USA 2% mismanaged waste number is extrapolated from estimates from another report by "Keep America Beautiful, Inc." in 2009 which can be found here.…/DocServer/Final_...
The estimates in this report do NOT state that 2% is mismanaged. Rather, it creates an estimate of mismanaged waste/litter. The authors of the Science report use this estimate and divide it into the total waste as estimated in a 2010 EPA report. We have no idea if these figures are commensurate.
(from the supplementary material: "We estimated percentage of waste littered using the only available national estimate of litter mass (25), which reported 4.17 million MT of litter generated in theUnited States in 2008, equivalent to approximately 2% of national waste generation (24).")

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  • Posted by  $  3 years, 5 months ago
    Interesting tidbit: It seems the bulk of our mismanaged waste comes from drivers and pedestrians who litter. On our roadways, 38% of the litter consists of tobacco products (cigarettes).
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