These 12 countries responsible for 60% of world’s mismanaged plastic waste: Report

Plastic Waste to Reach Record High in 2024, Overshooting Global Management Capacity

A new report by EA Earth Action predicts a staggering 220 million tonnes of plastic waste will be generated in 2024, a nearly 10% increase since 2021. This figure surpasses the world’s ability to manage plastic waste effectively, leading to environmental pollution on a massive scale.

The report, released ahead of crucial negotiations for a UN Global Plastics Treaty, marks the second annual Plastic Overshoot Day analysis. This year’s date falls on September 5th, indicating the day when plastic waste generation outpaces global management capacity.

The study broadens its scope from plastic packaging to include textiles and household waste, revealing that 2023’s Plastic Overshoot Day would have landed a day earlier under this expanded definition.

“The findings are unequivocal,” said Sarah Perreard, Co-CEO of EA Earth Action. “Improvements in waste management are simply not keeping pace with rising plastic production, making progress seem nonexistent.”

Perreard emphasizes the flawed assumption that increased recycling alone can solve the plastic crisis. The report highlights that nearly half the global population already resides in areas exceeding plastic waste management capabilities, with that number projected to rise to two-thirds by September 5th.

This burden falls disproportionately on developing nations. To address this imbalance, the report assigns a unique Plastic Overshoot Day to each country based on its waste generation and management capacity.

While some progress has been made, a staggering 117 days of plastic overshoot are projected for 2024, signifying the vast amount of plastic mismanagement globally.

The report identifies just 12 countries responsible for 60% of the world’s mismanaged plastic waste, with China, the USA, India, Brazil, and Mexico topping the list.

EA Earth Action proposes a six-part approach to combat plastic pollution, urging a focus on reduction and reuse alongside improved waste management infrastructure and policies like extended producer responsibility (EPR).

The organization emphasizes a shared responsibility between public and private sectors, advocating for science-based solutions and a robust global plastics treaty.

The report aligns with the upcoming UN negotiations, urging delegates to adopt ambitious policies that reflect the urgency of the crisis.

“The decisions made today will have lasting consequences for generations to come,” said Perreard. “2024 can be the year we shift course, prioritizing reduction and ensuring a future free from plastic entanglement.”

Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the critical window for a global treaty to safeguard not just the environment but public health.

Professor Terry Collins of Carnegie Mellon University commended the report for its valuable insights, emphasizing the need to move beyond waste management and prioritize reducing plastic production and use as the cornerstone of a sustainable future.