The Dark Waters of Asia
A recent study on the amount of plastic polluting our oceans revealed that close to 80 percent of the pollution comes from rivers in Asia. Asian Diver takes a look at the cause and effects of the pollution and what efforts are being made to solve it
The ancient Greeks believed that there are six main rivers that flow from the living world into the Underworld. Like the river Styx flowing from Feneos, Greece, into the dark bowels of Hades, some rivers that once provided food, water, transport and trade to all living creatures have now turned dark – transporting waste from the cities to the oceans, and with it, death and disease.
According to a study in November 2017 conducted by the HelmholtzCentre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany, about eight million metric tonnes of plastic debris are carried into the sea by large rivers every year. According to the UFZ report, up to 95 percent of the plastic polluting the world’s seas and oceans comes from just 10 river systems. Among these 10 rivers, eight are in Asia. Five of these filthiest rivers are in China alone: Yangtze River (ranking 1st), Yellow River (3rd), Hai River (4th), Pearl River and Amur River. In second place is the Indus River, while the holy Ganges River takes 6th place. The Mekong River, which runs through China and five countries in Southeast Asia, takes the tenth spot.
According to Dr Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at UFZ, a large proportion of marine plastic debris originates from land-based sources, with the rivers transporting these debris into the sea. Researchers are, however, hopeful that reducing the plastic waste by half can be achieved simply by collecting and recycling it.
Up to 95 percent of the plastic polluting the world’s seas and oceans comes from
just 10 river systems
MAN & SEA