The ocean has a plastic problem. And it’s growing. Several million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, and much of it ends up swirling around in the middle of ocean basins.
The largest such collection of plastic debris is an area in the middle of the North Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and a new study says it may contain sixteen times as much plastic as previously estimated.
There are also similar “garbage patches” in the middle of the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean.
“Most of the plastic we’ve created since 1950 has become waste and most of it has not been recycled and has not been incinerated,” said Kara Lavender Law, research professor of oceanography at Sea Education Association.
“Most of it is still in landfills or in the natural environment,” she said. “And there’s really no reason to think we’ve gotten better at preventing it from entering the ocean.”