"No single solution" is sufficient to address the United States' contribution to ocean plastics, which is "outsized compared with other nations," a new report says.
The report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended the United States substantially reduce solid waste production, while calling for a national strategy by the end of 2022 to reduce U.S. contribution of plastic waste in the ocean.
Kara Lavender Law, a professor of oceanography at the SEA organization and co-author of the report, said there is a "mismatch between the sources of production of plastic products and the waste management systems charged with dealing with them."
In 2019, North America produced about 19 percent of global plastic, second to Asia, the report said. Plastic production is projected to increase by 200 percent by 2035 and 350 percent by 2050.
Most environmental litter in the U.S., about 70-80 percent, comes from single-use items including packaging, tobacco-related items and "unidentified fragments from larger items."
Reducing "the amount of plastic produced [can] help decrease waste stream management needs," Law said in a Dec. 1 webinar hosted by NAS.
"That could mean reducing the production of plastics that are not reusable or practically recyclable … items most likely to become waste and leak into the environment … with short, disposable use periods."
Law suggested federal product limits or targets for recycling or reuse of such products and materials.