Why Asia pollutes the oceans so much

A study said that 81% of ocean plastic comes from Asian waterways

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Why Asia pollutes the oceans so much

Philippines are responsible for more 36% of plastic emissions and this is a figure in line with expectations, given that it is home to seven of the top ten emitting rivers. It should also be remembered that the Philippines is made up of many small islands, where most of the population lives near the coast.

Whoever thought, therefore, that this unfortunate ranking was represented by the largest countries in Asia, was wrong: India pollutes 13% and China 7%. Furthermore, all of the top ten emitting rivers are found in Asia, Philippines, India and Malaysia, which also covers most of the top 50.

Africa is responsible for 8%, South America for 5.5%, North America for 4.5%, and Europe and Oceania, together, for less than 1% In general, it is showed how Asia is the continent which produce most plastic pollution. The numbers contained in a scientific study published in our world in data, which highlight how the eastern continent is the largest producer of plastic waste which, through rivers, make their entry into the oceans.

A study said that 81% of ocean plastic comes from Asian waterways. Since the number of rivers involved in this survey is much higher than previously thought, it is safe to imagine that global efforts will be needed to improve waste management and plastic collection.

Pollution in the environment; not only Asia

Plastic pollution is the dispersion and accumulation of plastics in the environment, causing problems for wildlife habitat as well as human habitat. This type of pollution can affect the air, soil, rivers, lakes and oceans.

The relevance of the phenomenon derives from the cheapness of plastic, from its diffusion, from its widespread use in various sectors of activity and from its high persistence over time. Pioneer of the problem of plastic in the seas was the biologist Edward Carpenter of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who in 1972 published in Science two articles denouncing the massive presence of plastic particles floating in the Sargasso Sea, articles that were almost ignored for about thirty years .

In 2022, the OECD presented a study which, analyzing the period between 1950 and 2015, estimated that only 9% of plastic waste was finally recycled, while 19% was incinerated and about 50% ended up in controlled landfills.

The remaining 22% was abandoned in wild landfills, burned in the open or dumped in the environment, hoping for an effort to increase the recycling rate With regard to the modest recycling of plastics, both the onerous processes associated with this activity and the reduced number of times that plastic can be recycled on average, unlike other materials such as glass or metals, have an influence.