There are over 12.3 million pounds of trash running down the coast of our beaches and waterways —enough to fill the United States Capital Rotunda two-and-a-half times, a new study on plastic pollution around the world revealed.
The major new study of the world’s oceans, which waspublished in the journal PLOS ONE by Marcus Eriksen of the Five Gyres Institute in Los Angeles, uncovered the shocking fact: plastic is everywhere in the ocean.
The study’s findings were collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand, they included 24 ocean expeditions in 1,571 locations, conducted between 2007 and 2013, to reach their conclusions, warning that plastics are now spread across all of the world’s oceans.
Marcus Eriksen reportedly said:
The data was then used to run an ocean model to simulate the amount and distribution of plastic debris. According to IFL Science:
A large percentage of plastic and other synthetic polymers come from food packaging and clothing, as well as other manmade products. The majority of humans usually get rid of them, thinking that’s where their relationship with plastic ends.
The truth is they don’t know what happens next and how plastic gets into the oceans.
The study cautioned that its estimates are “highly conservative” and didn’t account for the massive amounts of plastic “present on shorelines, on the seabed, suspended in water columns and within organisms.” It added that the number is equivalent to each human being on the planet having dropped 700 pieces of plastic into the sea.
The scientists also revealed that large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish, allow them to enter the food chain.
The Guardian reported:
The trash we throw away and think we’ll never see again, in fact, makes its way to sea and into the bodies of its animals; this includes many different creatures such as turtles, fish, whales and many others. The high level of plastic and other rubbish isn’t only worrisome for the sake of our eco-system; it’s worrisome for the sake of public health.
Julia Reisser, one of the researchers, told the Guardian:
According to the researchers, as it was reported by IFL Science:
- The two northern hemisphere ocean regions contain 55.6% of particles and 56.8% of plastic mass.
- The North Pacific, in particular, contains 37.9% and 35.8% by particle count and mass, respectively.
- In the southern hemisphere, the Indian Ocean has a bigger particle count and accounts for more of the weight than the South Atlantic and South Pacific Ocean regions combined.
The plastic debris was separated into four 4 classes:
- Small microplastics (0.33-1.00 millimeter in diameter).
- Large microplastics (1.01-4.75 mm).
- Mesoplastics (4.76-200 mm),
- Macroplastics, the majority of which were derelict fishing buoys, (greater than 200 mm).
Andreas Merkl, Ocean Conservancy’s president and CEO, said in a press release, following the publishing of the study:
The American Chemistry Council, which represents U.S. plastic makers, replied to this study by making a statementthat noted to the importance of recycling plastics, similar to a 2011 worldwide industry statement promising to put maximum efforts to reduce marine litter.
The American Chemistry Council statement expressed:
Marcus Eriksen also added:
The researchers also mentioned that only 5% of the world’s plastic is presently being recycled.
(1) PLOS ONE (the main study)
(2) The Guardian
(3) IFL Science