China banned plastic bags. How much plastic waste do we generate?

Grade level: 4th – 5th grades

Skills: Circle graph

Related environmental issues: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle


China announced that they will ban the use of plastic bags and plastic straws in all of China’s major cities by the end of this year. According to the United Nations, single-use plastics are one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.

The circle graph below shows components of our waste in the United States in 2017.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 12.10.46 PM


  1. What kind of trash do we generate the most?
  2. Which trash do we generate more, plastics or glass?
  3. What trash do we generate as much as plastics?


Source: U.S EPA, 2019. Advanced Sustainable Materials Management: 2017 Fact Sheet

Note: The figure is created by weight.

Answer keys

  1. Paper
  2. plastics
  3. yard trimmings