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Marine Debris

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    27th Jun, 2019

Under the Ocean Cleanup project, a floating device designed to catch plastic waste has been redeployed in a second attempt to clean up an island of trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.

Issue

Context

  • Under the Ocean Cleanup project, a floating device designed to catch plastic waste has been redeployed in a second attempt to clean up an island of trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.

About:

  • Marine debris, including plastics, paper, wood, metal and other manufactured materials is found on beaches worldwide and at all depths of the ocean.
  • About 80% of marine debris originates from sources on land and the other 20%, about 636,000 tons per year, comes from ocean vessels.
  • The world produces 300 million tons of plastic each year, but only about 10% is recycled. The rest is dumped, landfilled or escapes as trash into landscapes, lakes, rivers and the ocean.
  • About 7 million tons end up in the ocean each year, making up roughly 75% of all marine debris.
  • Microplastics, in the millimeter size range, come mainly from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic.
  • They comprise most of the plastic in the oceanic ‘garbage patches.’
  • There is no way to get nanoplastics and microplastics out of the ecosystem, but both enter food webs because they are ingested by filter feeders and small fish, which gain no nutritional value.
  • They soak up toxins that leach from the particles or adsorb onto them, which scientists suggest can be passed on to humans as well as other wildlife.
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