What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
· According to Kate Wheeling, the EPA blames six Asian nations as the main sources of ocean pollution, but fails to note that these are areas where the US exports plastic waste.
· How can donors support the development of plastic alternatives? How can we reduce the amount of ocean pollution around the world?
· Read about ten facts about ocean pollution that you need to know.
At a White House event last Monday designed to highlight his administration's environmental record, President Donald Trump and cabinet officials praised the administration's efforts to combat plastic pollution in the oceans, while blaming a handful of Asian nations as the main sources of the debris. "Sixty percent of the world's marine litter comes from six Asian countries," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said from the White House. "We have the technology and the expertise to help these nations."
The next day, Indonesia rejected dozens of shipping containers full of waste exported by wealthy nations—including the United States—after inspections revealed the containers were contaminated with plastics, diapers, used electronics, and other hazardous wastes. Indonesia is hardly the first country to crack down on contaminated imports: China, once the largest importer of plastic scrap, upendedthe (largely overlooked) global trade of plastic waste last year when it stopped buying shipments of recyclables that weren't at least 99.5 percent pure. Paper, plastics, and other recyclable materials began piling up in waste management centers and landfills in the U.S. and other western nations, exposing the shortcomings of our own waste systems.
Globally, half of the world's plastic scrap is traded on the international market. The U.S. exports about a third of its recyclables every year, and once they're shipped abroad, they're classified as recycled, but there's no guarantee that all of plastic scrap actually makes it into new materials. The vast majority—78 percent—of the U.S.'s plastic waste exports go to countries with poor waste management systems such as Malaysia, where Greenpeace documented reports of illegal dumping and burning of materials meant to be recycled. "The actual amount of U.S. plastic waste that ends in countries with poor waste management may be even higher than 78 percent," according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, "since countries like Canada and South Korea may reexport U.S. plastic waste."
Read the full article about ocean pollution by Kate Wheeling at Pacific Standard.