The latest study, published in the journal Science Advances, used World Bank data on waste generation in 217 countries. It focused on the U.S. and used additional data on littering and illegal dumping within the country and on contamination by exported plastic, which is likely to be dumped rather than recycled. The researchers found the U.S. produced the most plastic waste by World Bank reckoning, at 34m tonnes in 2016, but the total increased to 42m tonnes when the additional data was considered. India and China were second and third, but their large populations meant their figures for per capita plastic waste was less than 20% of that of U.S. consumers. Among the 20 nations with the highest total plastic waste production, the UK was second to the U.S. per capita, followed by South Korea and Germany. “When the researchers estimated how much of each country’s plastic waste ends up in the oceans, Indonesia and India ranked highest,” the report adds. “The U.S. ranked between third and eleventh, depending on the assumptions made about waste leakage into the environment. The analysis found that up to 1 million tons of exported U.S. plastic waste ended up as marine pollution.”
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