Top 10 Most Polluted Rivers
Would you believe that 90% of plastics in the ocean came from just 10 rivers? Eight of these rivers are located in Asia, and the remaining two are from Africa.
Every year, we produce 300 million tons of plastics, and 8.8 million tons of these are dumped into the oceans. We’re talking about 40 billion plastic bottles, 100 billion single-use plastic bags, and 522 million personal care items. Disturbingly, 270,000 tons of these plastics are merely floating on the ocean surface. That is more than 5 trillion individual pieces when broken down, excluding millions of microplastics. You might be thinking that 270,000 tons is a lot, and you’re definitely right! It’s equivalent to 33,750,000 bowling balls, 135,000 cars, 130,000 medium-sized boats, 1,225 cargo trains, or 36,000 adult elephants.
Obviously, this current amount of plastic garbage is wreaking havoc on our once pristine marine biodiversity. Approximately 700 marine species are in danger of extinction because of plastic pollution. Sadly, 100,000 marine creatures are already dead because of plastic entanglement, while two-thirds of fishes worldwide are still suffering from plastic ingestion. By 2050, there will be more plastics than fishes in the oceans.
Plastic isn’t really that fantastic. In a world where plastic is literally everywhere, the term “plastic rivers” is no longer a shocker. When landfills fall short to accommodate all of our trash, the society turns into rivers and other waterways. This would result on rivers that are entirely covered with wastes. When seen from above, these rivers look like drowning from all sorts of trash, with plastics being in the spotlight. All the river currents are channelled back to oceans, bringing the trash with them.
The top 10 most polluted rivers have one thing in common – they are located alongside large human population with a poor waste management system. Together, they deliver almost all the plastics in the entirety of our oceans.
- Yangtze River
Located at the world’s sleeping giant, China, Yangtze River is the longest in Asia and third longest in the world. Its reputation is the worst on our list for flowing out a staggering amount of 1.5 million tons or 55% of the ocean’s plastics. Flowing through some of China’s most populated regions like Shanghai (22 million), Wuhan (9.8 million), and Chongqing (7.5 million), the river’s basin is a home for 480 million people or one-third of China’s population. Because of the highly-consumerist lifestyle of the Chinese populace, their waste management system can no longer keep up.
- Indus River
Second, on our list, Indus River is the longest in Pakistan. Its basin is covering over 384,000 square miles of open land, 204,000 of which lie in Pakistan. It’s one of Asia’s largest rivers running through Pakistan and India to the Arabian Sea. Aside from plastics, this river’s pollution is also from the absurd amount of sewage wastes.
- Yellow River
China’s cradle of civilization, Yellow River is the third longest river in Asia, next to Yangtze and Yenisei. It’s also the sixth longest river in the world, flowing through nine of China’s provinces to the Bohai Sea. This river is almost beyond salvation because of undrinkable water and 30% of its fishes gone.
- Hai River
Another one of China’s nastiest rivers, Hai River is the fourth on our list. It flows between two of the most densely-populated regions of China, Tianjin and Beijing, before emptying into the Bohai Sea.
- Nile River
This historical river from Egypt is number 5 on our ranking list. With over 360 million people living at its basin, this once majestic river flows through 11 different countries before reaching the Mediterranean Sea.
- Ganges River
Considered as India’s holiest river, Ganges River is upsettingly sixth on our list. It is worshipped as “Ganga Mata”, the divine mother responsible for sustaining life and nurturing civilization throughout India’s history. It provides water resources to over half billion people or 40% of India’s population. Despite these facts, an overwhelming amount of 1.2 billion pounds of plastics are still dumped here annually.
- Pearl River
Ironically, this river was named after its pearl-coloured shells lying at its bottom that flows through Guangzhou City. Another one of China’s most notorious river for harbouring plastics, this river isn’t looking pearly anymore. As a matter of fact, Hong Kong is consistently suffering from trash coming from Pearl River being washed on its shores.
- Amur River
Also known as Heilong River, Amur River is located between the borders of the Heilongjiang province of China and Russia’s Siberia, before being emptied on the vastness of Okhotsk Sea. Seriously? Another Chinese river?
- Niger River
The rank 9 on our list is the main river of West Africa. Niger River supports over 100 million citizens of Africa. From Nigeria, it flows through five countries before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Mekong River
Another one of the longest rivers in Asia made it last on our list. Mekong River travels through various countries like China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It supports 200 million people depending heavily on agricultural and fishing industries.
Knowing from here how serious the plastic pollution is, trust me when I say that we’re barely scratching the surface. The severity of the problem came to a point of no return that we may not be able to win the life back in our oceans when nothing is done from now on. Let’s stop creating tragic stories like the sperm whale incident or the sea turtle with a straw stuck on its nostrils.
We can still do something about it. In fact, we have to do it now! Let’s actualize the rule of Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Recycle, and Repair – or just say “No” to plastic because there are 6 solid reasons not to. Be responsible for the monstrous amount of trash we created. Start by participating in clean-up drives or join us the iBan Plastic Clean Up Movement.
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iBan Plastic Team