More than a million tons a year of America’s plastic trash isn’t ending up where it should. The equivalent of as many as 1,300 plastic grocery bags per person is landing in places such as oceans and roadways, according to a new study of U.S. plastic trash.
In 2016 — the last year enough data was available and before several countries cracked down on imports of American waste — the United States generated 46.3 million tons (42 million metric tons) of plastic waste, by far the most in the world. Between 2.7% and 5.3% of that was mismanaged — not burned, placed in landfills or otherwise disposed of properly, according to a study in Friday’s journal Science Advances.
Between 1.2 million and 2.5 million tons (1.1 million to 2.2 million metric tons) of plastic generated in the U.S. were dropped on land, rivers, lakes and oceans as litter, were illegally