While the US makes up 4% of the world’s population it produces 12% of its trash, more than both China and India. To make matters worse, it is also terrible at managing its garbage output, recycling a small percentage of waste.
As trash continues to saturate the world’s oceans and mount in developing countries where waste from the first world is offshored, the US could be headed for crisis as more and more countries begin to refuse to take America’s mountains of garbage. Unlike Germany, where 68% of waste is reused, the US recycles 35%, making it particularly dependent on shipping the problem elsewhere, according to a new report.
“The US is the only developed nation whose waste generation outstrips its ability to recycle, underscoring a shortage of political will and investment in infrastructure,” the report said.
The disturbing statistics come from research by the UK-based global risk and strategic consulting firm Maplecroft, who measured the waste generation and recycling performance of 194 countries to produce a profile of the world’s worst polluters.
While China unsurprisingly produced the most trash by volume, it was among the few major countries that actually produced less than its share of waste by percentage of world population. Despite having been one of the world’s worst polluters for many years, China has recently made major environmental investments, greening its economy, whereas the US has been comparatively slow to adapt.
And the US environmental issues extend beyond its quickly amassing mountains of trash; in terms of climate change, President Donald Trump has been notoriously skeptical about the issue, even calling the idea a “Chinese plot” against American manufacturing. Last month, another report revealed that the US military is the “single largest producer” of greenhouse gases in the world.