美国沿海塑料污染危机的头号推动者

出口塑料产生重大影响。

Plastic bottles at a recycling factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
孟加拉国达卡一家回收工厂的塑料瓶。雷赫曼·阿萨德/盖蒂图片社

与最近的报告相反,美国在管理塑料垃圾方面做得不够。一项新的研究发现,美国是世界上对经济贡献最大的国家之一yabo彩票沿海塑料污染当包括废塑料出口到其他国家进行回收。

这项新的研究发表在杂志上科学进步, challenges previous findings that the U.S. was successfully collecting plastic waste and properly maintaining it in landfills, recycling it, or otherwise containing it. Those earlier findings used 2010 data that did not include plastic scrap exports. The 2010 study ranked the U.S. 20th globally in its contribution to ocean plastic pollution. The new study ranks the U.S. as high as third among all countries.

“无论是在国家层面还是人均水平上,美国都是世界上最大的塑料垃圾产生国,这对环境和我们的海洋造成了严重后果,”海洋保护yabo彩票协会无垃圾海洋项目的高级主管、该研究报告的合著者尼克·马洛斯(Nick Mallos)告诉Treehugger。

“这项新的研究使用了最新的可用数据来分析这些塑料垃圾到底流向了哪里,结果发现很多塑料垃圾最终都流入了国外的沿海环境。如果再加上对美国非法倾倒或乱扔塑料垃圾数量的最新估计,美国在全yabo彩票球沿海塑料污染者中排名第三。”

For the new study, scientists from Sea Education Association, DSM Environmental Services, the University of Georgia, and Ocean Conservancy used plastic waste generation data from 2016 to calculate that more than half of all plastics collected for recycling in the U.S. were shipped abroad. That’s 1.99 million metric tons of 3.91 million metric tons collected.

在这些出口产品中,88%流向了难以回收或处理塑料的国家,15%至25%受到污染或价值较低,这意味着它们是不可回收的。考虑到这些信息,研究人员估计,源自美国的多达100万公吨塑料垃圾最终污染了美国以外的环境。yabo彩票

“现实是,我们的很多可回收物实际上并不可回收。单流回收系统在美国很常见,这意味着进口回收商需要花时间对成吨的“混合垃圾”进行分类,这些垃圾通常由薄膜和袋子等低价值塑料组成,或者是太脏而无法处理的物品,如未洗的食品容器,”马洛斯解释道。yabo彩票

“我们的研究估计,2016年,美国多达一半的塑料废料出口可能最终流入环境,因为它们在进口国没有其他地方可去。”yabo彩票

乱扔垃圾和非法倾倒

研究人员还估计,在美国产生的所有塑料垃圾中,有2-3%是在国内乱扔或非法倾倒到环境中的,2016年,约有100万yabo彩票公吨塑料垃圾进入美国生态系统。相比之下,美国收集了390万吨塑料用于回收。

“In other words, for every four or so plastic items collected for recycling, one ended up littered or illegally dumped,” Mallos says. “It’s a significant number.”

研究人员计算出,尽管美国仅占世界人口的4%,但它产生的塑料垃圾却占全球的17%。平均而言,美国人产生的塑料垃圾几乎是欧盟居民人均的两倍。yabo彩票

“This study really changes the narrative around the ocean plastics crisis. So-called developing and developed countries alike are contributing to ocean plastic pollution, and we can’t just focus on any one region to solve this crisis,” Mallos says.

“The results also reiterate the need for waste reduction in addition to waste management. It’s not realistic to assume that we can carry on business as usual here in the United States, producing more plastic waste than any other country in the world, without seeing impacts on our ocean. We need to phase-out unnecessary single-use plastic products, mandate recycled content minimums for the plastic products that are necessary, and invest in systems right here at home that allow us to process it all.”