When the subject of plastic pollution comes up in the United States, Europe, or other Western countries, many people’s first instinct is to dodge responsibility and pass the blame onto other nations.
“The problem isn’t us. We recycle and we keep our beaches clean,” you might hear someone say. “They are the ones polluting rivers and oceans with plastic trash.”
They, in these conversations, are typically China, India, and smaller developing countries in Asia.
In 2019, then-U.S. President Donald Trump echoed these sentiments when asked about the ubiquity of plastic waste. “Other countries are not taking care of their plastic use and they haven’t for a long time,” he said. “And the plastic that we’re getting is floating across the ocean from other places, including China.”