Take another quiz >

Worst Plastic Polluting Countries

Can you name the countries that produce the most littered or improperly disposed of plastic?
Source: Our World in Data. 2010 Data.
We show the % of world plastic pollution caused by each country.
Quiz by joez
Rate:
Last updated: November 13, 2019
First submittedDecember 18, 2018
Times taken2,239
Rating4.55
4:00
Enter answer here
0
 / 20 guessed
The quiz is paused. You have remaining.
Scoring
You scored / = %
This beats or equals % of test takers also scored 100%
The average score is
Your high score is
Your fastest time is
Keep scrolling down for answers and more stats ...
%
Country
27.7
China
10.1
Indonesia
5.92
Philippines
5.76
Vietnam
5.00
Sri Lanka
3.23
Thailand
3.04
Egypt
2.94
Malaysia
2.67
Nigeria
2.47
Bangladesh
%
Country
1.98
South Africa
1.88
India
1.63
Algeria
1.53
Turkey
1.51
Pakistan
1.48
Brazil
1.44
Myanmar
0.97
Morocco
0.96
North Korea
0.86
United States
+3
level 39
Dec 18, 2018
It shows us who really are the polluters of the world
+15
level 66
Nov 14, 2019
Nope, it just shows where the west sells its literal garbage to, and who produces to meet the west's demand. We're by far the biggest consumers, and consumption is what causes this.
+1
level 77
Nov 14, 2019
Japan consumes a lot but are also super anal about sorting their garbage.
+1
level 21
Dec 18, 2018
Rip my country is the 18th rank
+1
level 58
Dec 19, 2018
Wow, I didn't expect North Korea to have so much plastic.
+2
level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
They don't. It's just that a large percentage is improperly disposed of.
+13
level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
Of course, here in the U.S. we "recycle" our plastic which meant, until recently, shipping it to China so that they could improperly dispose of it for us. I wonder how much plastic has ended up in the oceans due to well-meaning but misguided recycling programs? Probably a lot. Fortunately, China has stopped taking our plastic so now we can throw it into a landfill where it belongs.
+8
level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
But, if we do actually want to recycle (and we should) here's how we should do it...

Only make one type of consumer plastic recyclable. Make it a law to clearly distinguish this recyclable plastic from other, non-recyclable, plastics. Perhaps by coloring it green. This would make it easy to sort and would result in a uniform, valuable product. Currently, so much junk ends up in the recycling bin that most of it ends up in the trash. Plastic recycling as it is currently performed is a net negative for the environment. It badly needs to be reformed or ended.

+1
level 82
Nov 13, 2019
Here they say that plastic can be sorted quite efficiently by a machine that uses optics to figure out what type of plastic it is. What cannot be used is plastic packaging that combines different types of plastics that cannot be easily separated from each other.
+2
level 74
Nov 13, 2019
Quit buying crap in plastic like kid's lunch portions. I've never understood how it's so hard to divide up food into a container.
+1
level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
I simply don't believe that bulk recycling can be sorted efficiently by a machine. Especially considering all the crap that people throw into the recycling. Here in Seattle, fast food restaurants are required to have three containers: trash, recycling, and compost. When you look inside the containers you will see that their contents are virtually the same. And Seattle has a higher percentage of college graduates than practically any large city in the entire world. It's just a lost cause.
+1
level 61
Nov 14, 2019
We had 3 different recycling bins in college. Stopped sorting when I saw the maintenance people collect all 3 into the same larger bin.
+1
level 84
Nov 14, 2019
I've heard that in order to achieve "properly sorted plastic", you would need to remove all labels, remove those little rings left over when you take the cap off, and divide it all into separate bins by number and color. So would every single other person (because all it takes is one badly sorted contributor to ruin a whole batch). And recycling haulers would need to have dozens of different compartments per truck and spend about 5x as long collecting recycling.
+1
level 72
Nov 13, 2019
I was going to say - I wonder if the "recycling" sent to China is included in those numbers.
+1
level 66
Nov 13, 2019
Same in Europe, especially here in Germany.
+3
level 72
Nov 13, 2019
So these are all the countries that the West sends their plastic to for "recycling". It would be interesting which countries' consumers are actually responsible for the most plastic, as opposed to which countries it is disposed in.
+1
level 74
Nov 13, 2019
A lot of plastic is actually taken care of locally (disposed or recycled), there are loads of facilities in the west.
+1
level ∞
Nov 13, 2019
As far as I know, it's mostly China that used to take recycled plastic from other countries. This isn't really a western problem.
+1
level 58
Nov 14, 2019
I watched a documentary saying that a lot of plastic is sent from the UK to Malaysia to be "processed" (which in practice meant dumping it in a scrapyard and waiting until it caught fire and released noxious fumes into the nearby residential areas, and then doing nothing). But that was just from one particular local authority in the UK and I don't know if any other local authorities sent their plastic to Malaysia. Also it has probably stopped now because of the documentary (it probably would have had some effect as it seemed that the local authority didn't know what was happening to the plastic).
+1
level 74
Nov 13, 2019
I have a friend who inherited a regional waste company (mostly a giant fleet of garbage trucks). He has his drivers collect separate trash and umpteen types of recycling because it's what customers in general want. It winds up obviously taking more room per trip instead of compacting it in one giant smelly mess. So the costs are passed back to the curbside cans of course. Unfortunately, a great percentage of it all winds up in regional incinerators after being sorted even though there are rail yards, freeways and a deep water international port right there to send it back into recirculation. I'm not joining a conversation with a solution, be it informed or nearsighted, just a head shake.
+1
level 63
Nov 13, 2019
Something wrong maybe? I beat or equalled 42.9% and got 85% of the answers correct but yet it gave me 5 points
+1
level 68
Nov 14, 2019
So, what's special about you, HinesBrothers? I got 85% and only scored 3.
+1
level 66
Nov 13, 2019
Thanks for this quiz! It’s not only about knowing (and showing you know), but also about learning something and maybe making the world a little, little better,
+2
level 66
Nov 14, 2019
Wrong conclusions gang is here, so please remember, it's in huge part plastic sold to those countries by the west and/or waste from industrial production greatly accelerated by the west's demand.
+2
level ∞
Nov 14, 2019
I don't believe there is evidence to support that claim. China, the #1 importer, imported about 7 million tons of plastic each year but consumed about 60. And it's even possible that they actually recycled some of the plastic that was sent there. :) The sad truth is that the vast majority of waste that ends up in the ocean was consumed in non-western countries. That said, western countries shouldn't be shipping any plastic to countries that dispose of it improperly.

https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution#the-impact-of-china-s-trade-ban

+1
level 58
Nov 14, 2019
In some cases the best solution to the problem of how to dispose of plastic is to burn it in a controlled manner. Most of the stuff it is made of is burned anyway. Politicians who want to appear to care about the environment dislike this solution, however, and would rather send it to a third-world country if recycling is not an option in their area. In these countries they are assured that the plastic will be processed cheaply and in a "green" manner, but it actually ends up burning anyway, just in a way that poisons people and in which the energy released by burning can't be used. Meanwhile one wonders what happens to the money paid for the recycling if the recycling never happens. I presume it is kept by some corrupt official.
+1
level 64
Nov 14, 2019
It is evident by these numbers that the EU desperately needs to ban plastic straws within its borders.
+1
level 58
Nov 14, 2019
A lot of this will be sent over by the EU for processing and not handled properly. But plastic straws are a very small percentage of the problem, you are correct.
+1
level 69
Nov 14, 2019
I would ban plastic water bottles. Not only are you paying an exorbitant price for 1/2 liter of water, but those plastic bottles end up on the street or garbage. Most of the litter I see are paper and plastic water bottles.
+1
level 66
Nov 26, 2019
I live in Germany and here you pay a deposit for the water bottles. 25 cent / bottle, no matter how big or small. This way people return most of the bottles to the shops. There you put them in a machine which gives you a receipt with the amount. You can use it to buy something else from the store or just to get the cash back. Even if some bottles do end up in the trash can, there are a lot of people who collect them, so they're not necessarily "lost" from the cycle.
+1
level 62
Nov 15, 2019
I think more countries should have a bottle and can deposit system where you pay extra money when you buy those packagings and get that money back when you bring them back so they can be recycled or properly disposed. In Germany that's totally normal for most beverages and it's been like that for many many years. From what I know not a lot of countries have such a system.
+1
level 71
Nov 15, 2019
I read somewhere that the most common, most harmful plastic trash as well as the most common plastic in the oceans is cigarette butts (filters). Pretty lethal, considering the other toxins included.

Do we already have a quiz about the dumped electronics?
+1
level 80
Nov 19, 2019
Something odd going on in Sri Lanka. 0.25% of the world, 5% of plastic pollution. Either they import everyone else's plastic or they use it in everything.