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Ocean contains 5 trillion pieces of plastic


Posted on Thursday, 11 December, 2014 | Comment icon 36 comments

Plastic waste can be found washed up on beaches around the world. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Hajj0 ms
The world's oceans have become a dumping ground for almost 270,000 tons of waste plastics.
With plastic bottles, fishing line and other items of rubbish becoming a common sight on beaches all over the world, scientists have been attempting to ascertain exactly how much waste material there really is in the sea and what impact it might be having on both the ocean's wildlife and on ourselves.

In the results of a new study published in the Plos One journal researchers have for the first time revealed the extent to which items of waste plastic have been affecting the environment.

There are now believed to be an estimated 5.25 trillion individual items of plastic debris floating in the world's oceans along with many more that are likely to have sunk to the bottom.
"Our estimate of the global weight of plastic pollution on the sea surface, from all size classes combined, is only 0.1 per cent of the world annual production," the report stated. "However, we stress that our estimates are highly conservative, and may be considered minimum estimates."

Researchers believe that some of that pollution may even be ending up on our dinner plates.

"When plastic gets into the water it acts like a magnet for oily pollutants," said researcher Julia Reisser. "Bigger fish eat the little fish and then they end up on our plates. Itís hard to tell how much pollution is being ingested but certainly plastics are providing some of it."

Source: Independent | Comments (36)


Tags: Plastic, Environment, Ocean


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #27 Posted by freetoroam on 12 December, 2014, 14:12
If I would have bothered to count it, I would have picked it up. hmm, great point, wonder if they did ..pick any of it up.
Comment icon #28 Posted by Beefers on 12 December, 2014, 14:17
That's actually less than I had expected. We produce and dump so much waste... There's just too many people on the planet, and too many people that don't care about the planet.
Comment icon #29 Posted by freetoroam on 12 December, 2014, 14:18
You are right about 'the big guys' but a lot of the plastic in the sea is the 'little mans' waste, there are 7 billion little men out there and far more of them chuck their plastic away instead of recycling it... Think of those large communities living along rivers and coastlines who see the water as a giant dump, out of sight out of mind. I see this being caused by the billions of 'little men' just as much as the waste produced by mass industry. This is litter on a grande scale. To a certain extent, sort of. FACT much of the waste recycled by the little man is not recycled when it gets collec... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by maximusnow on 12 December, 2014, 19:51
Hold on a sec....5 trillion and 1, 5 trillion 2 and sorry what was the count? ahhh man starting over, 1,2,3...
Comment icon #31 Posted by Maff on 12 December, 2014, 21:43
I went to the 3D printing showcase in London earlier this year. There are people working out ways to chew up and use existing types of plastic and feed then into a home 3D printing machine and print iPhone cases, sandles, replacement parts for various machines, or a million different useful things. You could print a bike if you are clever enough to design the parts. Plastic in the sea is a major issue today. Give it a few years when most households have 3d printers suddenly waste plastic will rise in worth and many of the companies creating this waste will be dredging it out of the sea again a... [More]
Comment icon #32 Posted by rashore on 12 December, 2014, 22:05
I went to the 3D printing showcase in London earlier this year. There are people working out ways to chew up and use existing types of plastic and feed then into a home 3D printing machine and print iPhone cases, sandles, replacement parts for various machines, or a million different useful things. You could print a bike if you are clever enough to design the parts. Plastic in the sea is a major issue today. Give it a few years when most households have 3d printers suddenly waste plastic will rise in worth and many of the companies creating this waste will be dredging it out of the sea again a... [More]
Comment icon #33 Posted by Junior Chubb on 12 December, 2014, 22:27
Much of this is because the waste is not recyclable, so I think the manufacturers have to start looking at how they package things.....this is were the problems start, so this is where they need to start if recycling is going to be our "saviour" True, stemming the source is a better tactic than fighting the tide...
Comment icon #34 Posted by Winter Summer on 12 December, 2014, 23:13
Hold on a sec....5 trillion and 1, 5 trillion 2 and sorry what was the count? ahhh man starting over, 1,2,3... Great Pacific Garbage Patch Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex. The largest of several ocean trash patches. "Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi) (0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean), or, in some media reports, up to "twice the size of the continental United States" Sadly, trillions may be an underestimation.
Comment icon #35 Posted by switchopens on 12 December, 2014, 23:20
One day, if you could make it profitable to own plastic, then it wouldn't take long to clean it up. Plastic, like any hydrocarbon, is simply a carbon chain of stored potential energy. When push comes to shove, the price of energy could be high enough to make the conversion possible and harness it as fuel. We probably could invent the technology to make a clean system that does just that now, but it's not profitable.
Comment icon #36 Posted by Babe Ruth on 14 December, 2014, 14:13
And how many will still drink and throw away plastic water bottles after reading this? Not I. I am very active as to recycling plastic and such, to the point of often picking up after others.


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