US Generates the Most Amount of Plastic Waste Worldwide

Jan 13, 2022

Thought Question: What is one small step you could take today to reduce the amount of plastic you use? 

If you see all those water or soda bottles rolling around the street and it makes you think your fellow Americans must be the most wasteful plastic users on the planet, you would not be wrong. In fact, the US generates more plastic waste than any other country. 

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) found that the US produces more plastic waste than all European Union countries combined. Today, the US creates about 42 million metric tons of plastic trash. That's about 130 kilograms of waste for every American. 

US recycling plants cannot keep up. So, around 2.2 million tons end up "leaking" into the environment. Much of the overflow winds up in our rivers and streams. It ends up floating to the ocean. Around the world, about 8.8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year.

Margaret Spring is the lead researcher on the report. She calls plastic waste “an environmental and social crisis." The waste, she warned, puts marine habitats at risk. She also said it pollutes waters that we rely on for food. 

Researchers recommend that the US create a monitoring system to keep track of all the plastic used. They also say the US should set goals to reduce the use of plastics.  

Photo from Reuters.

How does the introductory sentence contribute to the overall message of the story? (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
It establishes the tone of the article by opening with a quote demonstrating the urgency of the issue.
It introduces the main idea of the story by describing a relatable experience to connect with the reader.
It introduces the main idea of the story by providing attention-grabbing numbers and statistics to engage the reader.
It introduces the main idea by explaining the details of a new report that came out about the US and plastic waste.
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