Visualized: Ocean Plastic Waste Pollution By Country
Millions of metric tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year. While half of this plastic waste is recycled, incinerated, or discarded into landfills, a significant portion of what remains eventually ends up in our oceans.
In fact, many pieces of ocean plastic waste have come together to create a vortex of plastic waste thrice the size of France in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.
Where does all of this plastic come from? In this graphic, Louis Lugas Wicaksono used data from a research paper by Lourens J.J. Meijer and team to highlight the top 10 countries emitting plastic pollutants in the waters surrounding them.
Plastic’s Ocean Voyage
First, let’s talk about how this plastic waste reaches the oceans in the first place.
Most of the plastic waste found in the deep blue waters comes from the litter in parks, beaches, or along the storm drains lining our streets. These bits of plastic waste are carried into our drains, streams, and rivers by wind and rainwater runoff.
The rivers then turn into plastic superhighways, transporting the plastic to the oceans.
A large additional chunk of ocean plastic comes from damaged fishing nets or ghost nets that are directly discarded into the high seas.
Countries Feeding the Plastic Problem
Some might think that the countries producing or consuming the most plastic are the ones that pollute the oceans the most. But that’s not true.
According to the study, countries with a smaller geographical area, longer coastlines, high rainfall, and poor waste management systems are more likely to wash plastics into the sea.
For example, China generates 10 times the plastic waste that Malaysia does. However, 9% of Malaysia’s total plastic waste is estimated to reach the ocean, in comparison to China’s 0.6%.
|Rank||Country||Annual Ocean Plastic Waste (Metric tons)|
|🌐 Rest of the World||176,012|
The Philippines—an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, with a 36,289 kilometer coastline and 4,820 plastic emitting rivers—is estimated to emit 35% of the ocean’s plastic.
In addition to the Philippines, over 75% of the accumulated plastic in the ocean is reported to come from the mismanaged waste in Asian countries including India, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Thailand.
The only non-Asian country to make it to this top 10 list, with 1,240 rivers including the Amazon, is Brazil.
The Path to a Plastic-free Ocean
The first, and most obvious, way to reduce plastic accumulation is to reduce the use of plastic. Lesser production equals lesser waste.
The second step is managing the plastic waste generated, and this is where the challenge lies.
Many high-income countries generate high amounts of plastic waste, but are either better at processing it or exporting it to other countries. Meanwhile, many of the middle-income and low-income countries that both demand plastics and receive bulk exports have yet to develop the infrastructure needed to process it.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Ranked: Electric Vehicle Sales by Model in 2023
Today, electric vehicle sales make up 18% of global vehicle sales. Here are the leading models by sales as of August 2023.
Ranked: Electric Vehicle Sales by Model in 2023
Electric vehicle (EV) sales are gaining momentum, reaching 18% of global vehicle sales in 2023.
As new competitors bring more affordable options and new performance features, the market continues to mature as customers increasingly look to electric options.
This graphic ranks the top-selling EVs worldwide as of August 2023, based on data from CleanTechnica.
The Best Selling EVs in 2023 (Through August)
Below, we show the world’s best selling fully electric vehicles from January to August 2023:
|Tesla Model Y||🇺🇸 U.S.||772,364|
|Tesla Model 3||🇺🇸 U.S.||364,403|
|BYD Atto 3 / Yuan Plus||🇨🇳 China||265,688|
|BYD Dolphin||🇨🇳 China||222,825|
|GAC Aion S||🇨🇳 China||160,693|
|Wuling HongGuang Mini EV||🇨🇳 China||153,399|
|GAC Aion Y||🇨🇳 China||136,619|
|VW ID.4||🇩🇪 Germany||120,154|
|BYD Seagull||🇨🇳 China||95,202|
As we can see, Tesla‘s Model Y still holds a comfortable lead over the competition with 772,364 units sold. That’s more than double the sales of the #2 top selling vehicle, Tesla’s Model 3 (364,403)
But it’s hard to ignore the rising prevalence of Chinese EVs. The next five best selling EV vehicles are Chinese, including three from BYD. The automaker’s Atto 3 (or Yuan Plus, depending on market), is being sold in various countries including Germany, the UK, Japan, and India.
Meanwhile, Chinese automaker GAC Group also had two models of its Aion EV brand make the rankings, with the Aion S selling 160,693 units so far.
Regional market strength is also clear. For Volkswagen’s ID.4 model (120,154 units sold), Europe and China account for the majority of sales.
Given growing cost efficiencies and changing consumer behavior, global EV sales are projected to make up half of new car sales globally by 2035, according to forecasts from Goldman Sachs.
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