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“Americans May Add Five Times More Plastic to the Oceans Than Thought”

“The United States is using more plastic than ever, and waste exported for recycling is often mishandled, according to a new study.”

“The United States contribution to coastal plastic pollution worldwide is significantly larger than previously thought, possibly by as much as five times, according to a study published Friday.

The research, published in Science Advances, is the sequel to a 2015 paper by the same authors. Two factors contributed to the sharp increase: Americans are using more plastic than ever and the current study included pollution generated by United States exports of plastic waste, while the earlier one did not.

The United States, which does not have sufficient infrastructure to handle its recycling demands at home, exports about half of its recyclable waste. Of the total exported, about 88 percent ends up in countries considered to have inadequate waste management.”

Veronica Penney reports for the New York Times October 30, 2020.