A tweet by Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin Jr. that the world’s top three largest contributors of plastic pollution are the United States, China and the Philippines needs context.
Locsin said in a Sept. 29 tweet:
Ban production, possession, use not just of one use-plastic but of all plastic CONTAINERS. PH ranks 3 after US & China as worst plastics polluter. Sweeping punitive prohibition. Medical exception only in law or none. That opens door 100% to bureaucratic bribery. UN pleading.
Locsin did not specify the type of plastic pollution he is referring to. There are data on plastic waste generation and ocean plastic pollution.
In 2010, China, the United States and Germany generated the biggest volume of plastic waste: 59.08 million tonnes, 37.83 million tonnes and 14.48 million tonnes, respectively. But these “do not represent quantities of plastic at risk of loss to the ocean or other waterways,” according to Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser’s article on plastic pollution in Our World in Data.
China and the Philippines do rank first and third in ocean plastic pollution, but the second biggest ocean plastic polluter is Indonesia, not the United States, according to a 2015 study on marine pollution of 192 coastal countries published in Science.
According to the study, China had about 8.82 million metric tons (MMT) of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010; Indonesia, 3.22 MMT; and the Philippines,1.88 MMT.
The United States ranked 20th on the list with a total mismanaged plastic waste of 0.28 MMT.
The study defined mismanaged waste as “material that is either littered or inadequately disposed,” some of which can eventually end up in oceans. (MC)
Jambeck, J. et al. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347(6223) 768-771. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5abe4d6c70e8026873259030/t/5c8d3dc34e17b66697b7184e/1552760270616/Science-2015-Jambeck-768-71__2_.pdf
Teddyboylocsin. (2019, September 29). “Ban production, possession, use not just of one use-plastic but of all plastic CONTAINERS. PH ranks 3 after US & China as worst plastics polluter. Sweeping punitive prohibition. Medical exception only in law or none. That opens door 100% to bureaucratic bribery. UN pleading.” [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/teddyboylocsin/status/1178277717902577664
Ritchie, H. & Roser, M. (2018, September). Plastic pollution. Our World in Data. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution