Plastic Pollution

June 17, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 21
Should producers be held more accountable?
By Robert Kiener

Introduction

Plastic waste is everywhere. Researchers have discovered plastic particles throughout the world's oceans and atop Mount Everest. Today, the world is producing 353 million metric tons of plastic waste annually — twice as much as it did two decades ago. Plastic waste is known to harm the environment, wildlife and human health. Currently, less than 10 percent of all plastics manufactured around the world is recycled. Industry officials have acknowledged the need to improve recycling rates and infrastructure, and new approaches and technologies are being developed in response. However, critics say the industry is not doing enough and needs to be held more responsible for the plastics they produce. Several local, national and international entities, including the United Nations, are acting to curb plastic pollution by passing or considering laws that could ban certain plastics, increase regulations and add fees. Meanwhile, experts say the production of plastic is expected to double by 2040.

Photo of plastic trash on Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia, on December 20, 2020. (Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Dicky Bisinglasi)
Kuta Beach on the island of Bali in Indonesia is seen here dotted with litter in 2020. About 353 million metric tons of plastic waste is generated annually around the globe, with at least 14 million metric tons ending up in the ocean. (Getty Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Dicky Bisinglasi)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Environmental Protection
Jun. 17, 2022  Plastic Pollution
Dec. 17, 2021  Endangered Species
Nov. 06, 2020  Preventing Wildfires
Jul. 10, 2020  Circular Economy
Nov. 29, 2019  Climate Change and Health
Sep. 20, 2019  Extreme Weather
Dec. 07, 2018  Plastic Pollution
Dec. 02, 2016  Arctic Development
Apr. 22, 2016  Managing Western Lands
Jul. 18, 2014  Regulating Toxic Chemicals
Sep. 20, 2013  Future of the Arctic
Jun. 14, 2013  Climate Change
Nov. 06, 2012  Vanishing Biodiversity
Nov. 02, 2012  Managing Wildfires
Nov. 04, 2011  Managing Public Lands
Aug. 26, 2011  Gulf Coast Restoration
Jul. 2010  Plastic Pollution
Feb. 2010  Climate Change
Jan. 09, 2009  Confronting Warming
Dec. 05, 2008  Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Nov. 2008  Carbon Trading
Oct. 03, 2008  Protecting Wetlands
Feb. 29, 2008  Buying Green
Dec. 14, 2007  Future of Recycling
Nov. 30, 2007  Disappearing Species
Feb. 2007  Curbing Climate Change
Dec. 01, 2006  The New Environmentalism
Jan. 27, 2006  Climate Change
Oct. 25, 2002  Bush and the Environment
Oct. 05, 2001  Invasive Species
Nov. 05, 1999  Saving Open Spaces
Jun. 11, 1999  Saving the Rain Forests
May 21, 1999  Setting Environmental Priorities
Mar. 19, 1999  Partisan Politics
Oct. 16, 1998  National Forests
Jun. 19, 1998  Environmental Justice
Aug. 23, 1996  Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes
Mar. 31, 1995  Environmental Movement at 25
Jun. 19, 1992  Lead Poisoning
May 15, 1992  Jobs Vs. Environment
Jan. 17, 1992  Oil Spills
Sep. 20, 1991  Saving the Forests
Apr. 26, 1991  Electromagnetic Fields: Are They Dangerous?
Sep. 08, 1989  Free Market Environmental Protection
Dec. 09, 1988  Setting Environmental Priorities
Jul. 29, 1988  Living with Hazardous Wastes
Dec. 20, 1985  Requiem for Rain Forests?
Aug. 17, 1984  Protecting the Wilderness
Jun. 15, 1984  Troubled Ocean Fisheries
Aug. 19, 1983  America's Disappearing Wetlands
Feb. 22, 1980  Noise Control
Nov. 16, 1979  Closing the Environmental Decade
Oct. 13, 1978  Toxic Substance Control
Feb. 27, 1976  Pollution Control: Costs and Benefits
Nov. 28, 1975  Forest Policy
May 30, 1975  Wilderness Preservation
Dec. 20, 1974  Environmental Policy
Nov. 14, 1973  Strip Mining
Dec. 01, 1971  Global Pollution
Jul. 21, 1971  Protection of the Countryside
Jan. 06, 1971  Pollution Technology
Jun. 19, 1968  Protection of the Environment
Oct. 30, 1963  Noise Suppression
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Climate Change
Congress Actions
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Exports and Imports
Lobbying and Special Interests
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Recycling and Solid Waste
Regulation and Deregulation
Water Pollution
Water Transportation and Safety
Wetlands, Everglades, and Coastal Areas