The American way of life is putting the planet to the test. Since the NGO Global Footprint Network calculates the famous “overshoot day” every year, we know that it would take roughly five Earths to meet the needs of all humanity if we all lived like Americans.
A groundbreaking report released by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine lifts the veil on a particularly deleterious impact on the American way of life: the production of plastic waste. In this category, the United States are the world champions, reveals the study commissioned by the United States Congress to assess the national contribution to ocean pollution.
42 million tons of plastic waste per year: this is the dizzying weight of plastic waste in the United States. A production higher than that of all the countries of the European Union.
Production exceeds waste management capabilities
According to a new report mandated by the United States Congress, 52 million metric tons of plastic waste was emitted in 2021 in the USA. This corresponds to approximately 130 kg of plastic waste per American per year. That is a balance sheet almost twice that of China, as well as all the countries of the European Union. In comparison, the French each emit 43 kg of plastic waste each year on average.
Like the rest of the West, plastic production in the United States has been growing since the 1960s. The recycling infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the enormous growth of American plastic production, comments the report produced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
A garbage truck dumped in the ocean every minute
The study highlights the urgency of putting in place a national strategy by the end of 2024 to reduce the United States’ contribution to global ocean plastic waste at every stage, as well as establishing a coordinated and extensive monitoring system at the national level to identify sources and track the trajectory of plastic pollution.
According to the report, 8.8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the sea each year, equivalent to dumping a garbage truck of plastic waste into the ocean every minute. This is a serious concern as far as waste management is concerned.
At the current rate, the amount of plastic dumped into the ocean could reach 53 million tonnes per year by 2030, or about half the total weight of fish caught in the ocean each year, the study estimates.
Plastic pollution made in the USA is all the more impressive since the United States represents less than 5% of the world’s population. In relation to the number of inhabitants, an American thus produces on average around 130 kilos of plastic waste per year, i.e. eight times more than a Chinese (15 kilos) and three times more than a French person (43 kilos). Behind the Americans, the British (99 kilos) and the South Koreans (88 kilos) complete the trio of the biggest polluters.
Dumpster Rentals to the rescue
Americans use a lot of dumpster rental services to discard their junk and waste. But there is not enough of them in the country to balance the mass of garbage created every day (click here for more information).
Waste management must become a high priority everywhere in the United States including in Georgia, otherwise we are compromising our children’s future. The time of awakening has come, let’s all stop creating so much waste.