Keeping Pace with Asia’s Rise
No. 134 Issue 1/2019
The meteoric rise of Asia, home to the fastest growing economies in the world, has also led to a steep increase in the amount of waste we generate
Terence Koh Plastic pollution in the oceans was first observed in the 1960s, after the plastics industry had taken quantum leaps in production and plastics were adapted to all sorts of consumer uses. With Western economies booming, people were ready to spend again in peacetime and the possibilities of plastics shaped every utopian vision of plenty. Today, with approximately 4.6 billion people living in Asia (almost 60 percent of the total world population), half of them living in an urban environment at a median age of 30.7
years, this heady combination of economic and population growth, urbanisation and consumption is being unleashed across half the world with a staggering plastic rubbish footprint that has become one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.
The Rise of Asia
According to Dr Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, a large proportion of marine plastic debris originates from landbased sources and rivers transporting these debris into the sea. The severe pollution of the oceans around Asia from plastic, chemical and biological waste is linked intrinsically with the rapid economic development of the cities in Asia. Unlike Western countries like the United States, which grew more organically through decades of steady economic growth, the economic giants of Asia like India and China have experienced skyrocketing growth that has brought about many growing pains.