95% Of Global Plastic Waste In Oceans Comes From Just TEN Rivers In Asia & Africa

95% Of Global Plastic Waste In Oceans Comes From Just TEN Rivers In Asia & Africa

A recent study has found that up to 95 percent of plastic waste comes from just ten rivers in Africa and Asia. There are approximately 2.3 billion tonnes of plastic floating in the world’s oceans, and researchers believe they have discovered which river systems carry the majority of this plastic out to sea.

Targeting these river systems, such as the Ganges which flows through India and Bangladesh and the Yangtze River which flows through China, could almost halve the amount of plastic that gets dumped into the oceans.

The study, carried out by Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (HCER) in Germany, stated that the best way of dealing with the plastic in the oceans is by dealing with the sources. Doctor Christan Scmidt, a hydrogeologist with HCER said;

one thing is certain: this situation cannot continue. But as it is impossible to clean up the plastic debris that is already in the oceans, we must take precautions and reduce the input of plastic quickly and efficiently.

The team at HCER analysed data from 57 rivers, at 79 sample sites, and found that the Yangtze River in China is the worst polluter – adding 1.5 million tonnes of plastic into the Yellow Sea each and every year. The plastic the river transports is comprised of microplastics, which measure less than 5mm across, and larger pieces. Microplastic is detrimental to marine life, however as it is so small it will be impossible to remove every piece.

“Halving the plastic input from the catchment areas of these rivers would be a major success,” Schmidt said, adding “to achieve this, it will be necessary to improve waste management and raise public awareness of the issue.”

Other large contributors to the plastic that is being dumped in the ocean each and every year are:

  • Xi, Dong, and Zhujiang Rivers in China; 105,700 tonnes per year
  • Brantas River in Indonesia; 38,500 tonnes per year
  • Solo River in Indonesia; 32,200 tonnes per year
  • Serayu River in Indonesia; 16,800 tonnes per year
  • Progo River in Indonesia; 12,700 tonnes per year

Schmidt said that the ten rivers carrying the most plastic into the oceans are responsible for 88-95 percent of the plastic being dumped into the oceans each year.