Countries That Pollute The Ocean The Most 🌏: Every country, no matter how small or big, plays an integral part in keeping the Earth protected. However, some countries do more harm than good with how they pollute our oceans with waste such as plastics. In this blog, we will cover which countries produce and release the most ocean pollution waste. Continue reading to learn more. 

Even with all the advocacies coming from different countries across the globe that pledge to, at the very least, lower plastic usage, millions of metric tonnes of plastic are, unfortunately, still produced every year. In fact, some of those countries with all the advocacies even pollute the oceans more than others. Only around half of it gets incinerated, landfilled or, at best, recycled – the other half of every country’s produced and discarded plastic goes straight to the ocean.

Time and time again, we remind you of the dangers of plastics roaming around the world’s oceans. Of course, we have plastics dirtying our oceans as one of the main reasons. But, much worse than that is its ability to kill ocean life. Plastic products such as bags, bottles and straws will kill any and every marine life along with polluting the bodies of water, more specifically the oceans.

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How worried should we be?

How dire is the situation? Well, for starters, we have the Great Pacific Garbage Patch full of marine debris (i.e., litter such as plastics that made its way into the oceans, seas and other large bodies of water) in the North Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Pacific trash vortex, it has a large size – from the West Coast of North America to Japan. That is how dire the situation is.

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Obviously, every country in the world is responsible for the plastics that make their way to the ocean. However, some countries discharge more than others. Below, we will cover just that. Which countries pollute the ocean the most? And what can we do about it? Let’s talk about it further!

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The study of the countries that pollute the oceans the most

Before we enumerate the 10 countries that pollute the oceans the most, let us delve a bit deeper into the study behind it.

The data which accounts for the world’s largest ocean plastic pollution contributors are found in a study by Lourens J. J. Meijer, Tim van Emmerik, Ruud van der Ent, Christian Schmidt and Laurent Lebreton with the title “More than 1000 rivers account for 80% of global riverine plastic emissions into the ocean” published at ScienceAdvances on April 30, 2021.


The top 10 countries that pollute the oceans the most

Here, we now provide you with the top 10 countries that pollute the oceans the most. Take a look at the table below.

(Rank) Country Percentage share
(1) Philippines 36.4 per cent
(2) India 12.9 per cent
(3) Malaysia 7.5 per cent
(4) China 7.2 per cent
(5) Indonesia 5.8 per cent
(6) Brazil 3.9 per cent
(7) Vietnam 2.9 per cent
(8) Bangladesh 2.5 per cent
(9) Thailand 2.3 per cent
(10) Nigeria 1.9 per cent


Rivers: the main plastic contributors to oceans

Just as Meijer’s research paper’s title says, a surprising 80 per cent of the global ocean plastics come from rivers and coastlines. Meanwhile, the remaining 20 per cent comes from marine sources like fleets, fishing nets, and ropes.

The study also indicates that 81 per cent of all ocean plastic globally originates from countries in Asia. The plastics come from rivers and make their way into the ocean. Below, we provide you with a table that indicates the percentage of how much each continent emits ocean plastics from the countries that pollute the oceans the most.

Continent Contribution percentage
Asia 81.0 per cent
Africa 8.0 per cent
South America 5.5 per cent
North America 4.5 per cent
Europe 0.6 per cent
Oceania 0.4 per cent


How does plastic from the river reach the ocean?

Plastics go a long way from the moment they make their way into beaches, parks or storm drains. Then, they go on a journey from there to other drains, streams and rivers by wind and rainwater runoff.

Afterwards, the rivers transport the plastics to the oceans.

As mentioned above, rivers are the main contributors to ocean plastics. We provide another table below, showing the rivers that emit the most plastics that go into the ocean from the countries that pollute the ocean the most.

River (country) Percentage of total plastic emissions
Pasig (Philippines) 6.43 per cent
Klang (India) 1.33 per cent
Ulhas (India) 1.33 per cent
Tullahan (Philippines) 1.33 per cent
Meycauayan (Philippines) 1.23 per cent
Pampanga (Philippines) 0.95 per cent
Libmanan (Philippines) 0.72 per cent
Ganges (India) 0.63 per cent
Rio Grande de Mindanao (Philippines) 0.54 per cent
Agno (Philippines) 0.47 per cent


Waster’s final thoughts on countries that pollute the ocean the most

It’s clear that plastic pollution in our oceans is an issue that needs immediate attention. While it can be daunting trying to think about how one person can make a difference when it comes down to such a global problem, it’s important to remember that every action we take helps!

Do take note as well that plastic pollution in the oceans is a global issue and the responsibility to address it rests with all countries. In other words, it is not just the countries that pollute the ocean the most that are responsible. It is for everyone across the globe.

While some countries may contribute more than others, reducing plastic pollution requires a coordinated effort by governments, businesses, and individuals around the world to reduce plastic waste and promote sustainable alternatives.

Reducing single-use plastics and recycling whenever possible are two great ways we can all do our part in reducing oceanic pollution levels worldwide! It’s also important to support organisations dedicated to cleaning up our oceans so they have the resources they need to make a difference! Together, we can start making a real change for our planet’s future!


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