Let's talk about pollution and five countries in Asia. Or, more specifically, let's talk about the study that people like to cite from 2015 claiming that five countries in Asia — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — account for more than half of the plastics in oceans.
That study is brought up whenever there's talk about new regulations for plastics production in the U.S. It's an easy way of pointing the blame at someone else, somewhere else. We've already seen it mentioned because of discussions in Washington, D.C., about a possible tax on plastics.
The problem is, that statistic isn't true now and may not have been true then. That's not spin from some environmental group; it's from the researchers themselves who say further investigation puts a far higher emphasis on the United States for that debris.
The revision is linked to new data that allowed researchers to include low-value plastics waste shipped by the U.S. to other regions. While the U.S. wasn't seeing that waste on its own shores, its waste ended up as trash for other countries.
"We are contributing a substantial mass of plastic to the environment, both in this country and abroad," said Kara Lavender Law, a research professor of oceanography at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., who was one of the lead researchers for the study.
This isn't new information. Steve Toloken wrote about the updated study nearly a year ago. I just bring it up now so that in the future, discussions don't get derailed over outdated research.