Report: Philippines in Top 5 of World’s Worst Ocean Plastic Polluters

Report: Philippines in Top 5 of World’s Worst Ocean Plastic Polluters

According to a new study, the Philippines are one of the top five culprits when it comes to plastic pollution of the world’s oceans. New data also suggests that the problem is much bigger than previously thought.

An estimated 8 million tons of plastic trash, such as bottles, shopping bags and toys, ends up in the world’s oceans each year, with more than half of it coming from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. That is the shocking conclusion of a new study published Thursday in Science.

China is leading the gang of culprits with an estimated 3.5 million tons, while Thailand, Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia and Bangladesh also make the top 10 of worst polluting countries. In contrast, the USA rank 20th, while Denmark ranks 143rd overall.

This new study has also concluded that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is far greater than previously estimated. Earlier estimates were based on sample counts of garbage patches in each of the world’s oceans, with a recent study concluding that the amount of floating trash was 245,000 tons at most. Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and a co-author of the report, explained why the new figures are so drastically different: “What we have done is look at the other side of the equation — what’s coming out of the faucet, rather than what’s already in the bathtub. The size of the discrepancy is huge — 20 to 2,000 times more than the range of estimates of floating debris. That is pretty shocking, especially when you consider that the amount going into the ocean in a single year and what we’re counting in the oceans has been going in for 50 years.”

 The study was led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, and she and her team combined population and economic data from 192 coastal countries bordering the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans in addition to the Mediterranean and Black Seas. They concluded that these countries created around 275 million tons of garbage annually, of which around 4.8 to 12.7 million tons of plastic, or 2 to 5 percent, found their way into the oceans.

Worryingly, the amount of garbage in the oceans is growing and the authors of the study predict that the annual amount of plastic trash tumbling out to sea will more than double in the next 10 years.