10 African countries with the highest plastic waste production

Plastic waste clogs drains, suffocates animals, and even prevents rainwater absorption. By 2050, it is estimated that the volume of plastic will be greater than that of fish in the sea.
  • The US and UK produce more plastic waste than any other major country globally.
  • In Africa, Egypt and Algeria produce more plastic waste than any other country, and when it comes to plastic waste generation per capita, they are ranked 14th and 17th, respectively.

Plastic waste remains one of the largest environmental concerns we face in the 21st century as the long-term effects continue to wreak slow-but-certain havoc on an environment in multiple ways. But which countries are responsible for the highest quantities of plastic pollution?

A recent report drawing on World Bank data and published in the journal Science Advances suggests that the US and UK produce more plastic waste per person than any other major country.

The report shows that the US exports over half of the plastic waste collected for recycling to other countries with poor waste management systems like India or places in Africa.

Meanwhile, Egypt generates over 3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste in Africa annually. Egypt was also the largest producer of plastic waste in the Arab world and the largest source of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

Collectively, the top five plastic waste producers in Africa generate an astonishing 10 million metric tones of plastic per year. So who are the top 10?

The 10 countries with the highest total plastic waste production, measured in metric tons.

  1. Egypt - 3,037,675
  2. Algeria - 2,092,007
  3. Nigeria - 1,659,502
  4. South Africa - 1,425,323
  5. Kenya - 1,279,843
  6. DR Congo - 1,078,892
  7. Tanzania - 814,511
  8. Angola - 651,928
  9. Uganda - 636,506
  10. Morocco - 570,102

How can we reduce our plastic consumption?

Below are some recommendations from UNEP and the Life Cycle Initiative’s meta-analyses of life cycle assessment studies on SUPPs:

1. We can reduce our plastic consumption in many affordable ways, but the easiest ones include replacing single-use plastics with reusable alternatives.

2. Products should be designed to be both lightweight and durable to maximise reusability. Production should be sustainable by using renewable energy and recycled materials.

3. Sourcing locally and avoiding air-freight transported goods is another way to reduce the environmental impact of products over their life cycle.

4. Finally, end-of-life impacts must be considered so that products can be recycled or discarded in an environmentally friendly manner when they can no longer be reused.


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