Why 99% of ocean plastic pollution is “missing”
A lot of it is probably hiding in plain sight.
For the past several years, scientists have been trying to account for the 8 million metric tons of plastic that we dump in the ocean every year. It was originally assumed that large portions of it was floating in on of the many ocean garbage patches, where these swirling debris accumulate. A lot of the plastic we consume ends up in these patches due to poor waste management practices and natural disasters, among other causes. Marine debris kills hundreds of thousands of sea birds, turtles, and marine mammals each year.
It is remarkably difficult to track all of this plastic but a group of researchers affiliated with the Ocean Cleanup excavated plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage patch and published a study in 2019. According to their new model, what's floating on the surface of the water accounts for only 1% of what we put in the ocean.
It turns out, most of it might be closer than we think. Scientists are getting closer to an answer, which could help clean-up efforts and prevent further damage to marine life and ocean ecosystems. Watch this video by Vox to learn more!
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