In March 2018, scientists from the Dutch Ocean Cleanup Foundation studied the huge ocean plastic accumulation area between California and Hawaii. This is the Pacific garbage patch known as the “Eighth Continent”. They found that there are more than 79,000 tons of ocean plastic floating here.
99.9% of these wastes are plastics, and more than three-quarters of plastics are larger than 5 cm, including hard plastics, plastic sheets and plastic films. Although plastic particles account for only 8% of the total mass of plastic, they account for 94% of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in this area.
From the 1970s to 2015, these plastics quickly accumulated here. Most of the larger waste has been broken down into small pieces. The team identified that only certain types of waste that are thick enough to continue to float on the surface, such as common polyethylene and polypropylene, which are often used for packaging.
Scientists also analyzed multiple aerial images to achieve more accurate counting and measurement of larger wastes-which explains to some extent why the latest estimates are so much higher than those of previous studies. Moreover, after the 2011 East Japan Tsunami, the level of marine plastic pollution in the region has also risen.
Scientists say that it is not yet possible to clearly assess how long these plastics will float in this area.
Temporary “repository” in the Arctic Ocean
Not only in the Pacific, the spread of plastic pollution is far beyond imagination. In April 2018, scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Oceanography in Germany confirmed that the once pure sea ice is also becoming a temporary “repository” for plastic particles.
These sea ices contain a large number of plastic particles (plastics with a diameter of less than 5 mm), which spread to the Arctic Ocean along with the movement of the sea ice. An earlier study showed that trillions of plastic microparticles have appeared in Arctic sea ice. Each cubic meter of sea ice contains as many as 240 plastic microparticles. This density is about the density of plastic microparticles in the Pacific Ocean. 2000 times.
The German team analyzed the composition of the plastic particles in the ice core and the drift trajectory of the sea ice, determined that the sea ice samples originated from the Meia Basin and the Eurasian Basin, and also identified the unique composition of the polymer in the ice core. They believe that the distribution of plastic particles in the central Arctic Ocean is much more complicated than previously thought. What’s more serious is that a large number of plastic particles may be released into the ocean due to the melting of sea ice caused by climate change, and they are likely to spread across the surface of the Arctic Ocean and deep water areas-they will be eaten by filter feeders in the ocean and stay in them. , And then pass through the food chain layer by layer.
War on plastic pollution
Human beings have a natural yearning and pursuit for a better environment, but it is our infinite dependence on plastic that gives it all-pervasive opportunities. Every year, the number of plastic bags consumed worldwide is 500 billion; every minute, 1 million plastic bottles are sold globally; only 9% of the plastic produced globally can be recycled, and the remaining 5.5 billion tons are filled. Buried or discarded in the natural environment…
The vast majority of plastic packaging will always exist and eventually flow into the ocean. It is easy for these plastics to disappear into the sea, and they will soon fade out of people’s vision, but they are like ghosts, and they will be re-bundled with humans in various ways. At present, the ratio of plastic to plankton in the ocean has reached 1:2. If no action is taken, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish in 2050. The ocean produces half of the earth’s oxygen, and destroying the ocean is actually destroying mankind.
Declaring war on plastic pollution is a war of the century. Please be prepared for everyone and every day.