Americans are not causing the ocean plastic problem

January 1, 2021

For years, environmental activists and political leaders have used images of waste-filled beaches to turn consumers against plastic. The imagery has been used to support calls to ban common single-use plastics, including straws, shopping bags, bottled water, and more. Thinking they are helping the environment, many Americans support these policies.

But is plastic trash in the United States actually as bad as we’ve been led to believe? New evidence provides important context.

A study published this fall in Science Advances generated breathless headlines claiming that the U.S. is a major culprit for plastic in the ocean. A dive into the study itself shows the opposite.

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