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China’s Increase in Ocean Waste

Posted on 4 December 2019

In 2018, China dumped 200.7 million cubic metres of waste in the waters surrounding it – an increase of around 27% on the previous year and the highest amount it has dumped in ten years. 

That amount translates to around 24 kilograms of trash floating around every 1 000 square metres of surface water. Plastic made up 88.7% of the ocean waste sitting on the surface, as well as the majority of the waste below the surface. Most of the waste was dumped in coastal industrial zones around the Yangtze and Pearl rivers in eastern China.  

China maintains that conditions are improving across its waterways, with several river clean-up plans already in place. But, some environmental groups are saying that instead of dumping waste in rivers, China is looking to the sea instead.