Plastic Waste Management and Leakage in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Brooks, Amy;
Jambeck, Jenna;
Mozo-Reyes, Eliana
Nov 2020
As of 2017, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic had been produced worldwide. Since about 40% is used in things that are thrown away relatively quickly (packaging and single use items), 6.4 billion metric tons had already become discarded materials needing to be managed. Only 9% of these discarded materials were recycled globally. The annual estimate of plastic entering our oceans globally is 5 to 13 million metric tons (MMT) per year. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has an extensive populated coast, 119,000 km of coastline and over 205 million people living within 50 km of that coastline. Waste management infrastructure is still under development in many countries. Economic growth without fully developed infrastructure can lead to increased plastic leakage. This report focuses on municipal solid waste as a source of plastic input into the environment in LAC. The reports estimates that total plastic waste available to enter the ocean in LAC in 2020 was 3.7 MMT . Under business-as-usual projections, the report anticipates that the regional quantity available to enter the oceans in 2030 will be 4.1 MMT and 4.4 MMT in 2050.