These are the countries that pollute the world’s oceans the most

The developing economies in Asia are heavily polluting the world’s oceans. Up to eight Asian countries are on the list of the Top 12 nations that pollute the oceans the most, based on research published in the Wall Street Journal.

Collectively, these eight Asian countries are responsible for producing up to 63% of overall plastic waste flowing into the Pacific and Indian oceans. Most of those plastic wastes are in the form of bags, plastic bottles, and other rubbish that eventually tend to clog up global sea lanes.

The list was generated by a team of researchers from the U.S. and Australia. The group analyzed plastic waste levels that can be tracked in our oceans in 2010. Here’s a quick rundown of that list:

Nations that Pollute the World’s Oceans the Most
(in million metric tons)

China was on top of the list, putting an estimated 8.8 million metric tons of plastic garbage into the oceans. Don’t instantly jump to conclusions to judge Beijing for this mess. The country had been importing about 45% of the plastic refuse from other countries including the U.S. since 1992. Those plastic wastes are subjected to recycling processes in Chinese facilities.

It is still not clear how much of those plastic refuse items are actually recycled and what portion of those are dumped, getting the way into the rivers, seas, and eventually into the ocean. But that volume should drop as Beijing has already implemented a ban on those imports in 2018. This move will also affect the ranking of some countries in this list, especially the U.S.

Other Asian countries topping this list are Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Together, these seven countries dump a combined 11.2 million metric tons of plastic garbage into the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, the two major oceans surrounding the continent.

A ‘plastic soup’ of plastic wastes floating in the Pacific Ocean, held in place by swirling underwater currents. The ‘soup’ is drifting (as indicated by the arrows).

A recent study conducted and released by the Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment found that by significantly improving trash collection by about 80% in just five nations in Asia (China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam), the world’s ocean plastic waste could drastically decline by at least 23% over the next 10 years.

Aside from responsibly and effectively managing wastes and improving trash collection, most environmentalists are calling on nations to create more modern landfills, incinerators, as well as efficient recycling programs so that plastic wastes could be regulated and prevented from ending up in our oceans.