A landmark study, published in the journal Science on Thursday 13 February, reveals just how much plastic makes its way in the world's oceans and the top countries responsible for the ocean-bound trash.
It is no secret that the world’s oceans are swimming with plastic debris – the first floating masses of trash were discovered in the 1990s. But researchers are starting to get a better sense of the size and scope of the problem.
A study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One estimates that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, large and small, weighing 269,000 tons, can be found throughout the world’s oceans, even in the most remote reaches.
Less than half of the 280 million metric tons of plastic produced each year ends up in the landfill. A fair bit of the rest ends up littering the landscape, blown by the wind or washed down streams and rivers into the sea.
So far Americans spend $520 million a year to clean up plastic litter washing up on beaches and shorelines. Efforts to clean up the oceans' enormous swirling gyres of garbage has an incalculable cost. Thus, much of the focus has been on how to stop the river of trash from entering the ocean.
Recent research reveals that even remote areas of the oceans are affected by increasing levels of plastic waste on the seafloor. The study found that quantities of litter from human activities, mostly plastic, on the seabed of an isolated Arctic site, doubled from 2002 to 2011.
Around 60% of the Earth’s surface is covered by the seafloor, yet very little is known about how pollution has affected the deep ocean, in particular, remote areas such as the Arctic.
Where: Armada Drive (above the Flower Fields/past Karl Strauss in Carlsbad, CA)
When: 10am-8pm (Saturday, 9/22) and 10am-5pm (Sunday, 9/23)
What: Come visit New Ocean Blue’s booth at Carlsbad’s street fair Art Splash where you will be able to learn about the dangers of plastic pollution and create shark puppets out of used plastic bags! This is a family event, so bring the whole bunch!
Friday, Feb 3 on Jungutbatu beach, Nusa Lembongan, Bali
Moonsoon is here, so huge amounts of plastics and marine debris are washing up on the beaches every day. This clean up is a combination effort of several dive & tourism businesses on Lembongan island with the help of tourist & local volunteers.
A clean sweep of the beach: from the Harbour to Blue Corner Dive!
Who knew? Much has been written about the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, where a Texas-size swill of plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and other debris floats. Now, scientists are finding that home washing machines seem to be a major source of "microplastic" ocean pollution.
Bits of polyester and acrylic smaller than the head of a pin are likely rinsing off garments during the wash cycle and ending up on shorelines, according to a study published this month in the American Chemical Society's Environmental Science & Technology.