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Three years ago, James Merrill was working as an overseas government contractor for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). His job? Identify communities most at-risk for recruitment by radical groups and terrorist organizations. During his ten years of work for USAID and other international NGOs, James noticed a common thread between such communities at risk of radical recruitment – plastic trash, or what he calls the “plastic pandemic.”
Of the 500 billion plastic bottles produced each year, only six percent are actually recycled with the rest finding their way into landfills, or worse, the ocean. And landfill communities as well as coastlines inundated by plastic trash are places ripe for radical recruitment. It makes sense – if you were living in a community inundated by plastic trash, much of it from outside your borders, how far would you be willing to go to change that?