How Much Plastic Ends Up In The Ocean Every Minute – World Oceans Day 2019: The ocean plastics problem isn’t going away, but here’s what you can do to help
The consequences of mass production, consumption and disposal of plastic continue to worsen, and the health of the environment – especially the world’s oceans – is bad because of it.
How Much Plastic Ends Up In The Ocean Every Minute
The problem with plastics is new but serious, John Hocevar, ocean scientist and ocean campaigner for Greenpeace USA, told ABC News. Mass production of plastic began in the 1950s and has continued to expand ever since, and almost all of the plastic that was made “is still with us today,” Hocevar said. The material never breaks down completely, but rather breaks down into microplastics, say less than 5 millimeters in diameter, which continue to spread around the world.
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More than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced worldwide in the past 70 years, Dianna Cohen, CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, told ABC News.
“There is a lot of plastic in the environment these days, it’s in the water we drink, the food we eat and even the air we breathe,” Hocevar said.
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean, according to a 2016 study published by the World Economic Forum. This is equivalent to a truckload of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute, and if the trend doesn’t increase, that number could rise to four truckloads of plastic entering the ocean. into the ocean every minute, the study estimates.
A gray whale dies at Limantour Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore in Point Reyes Station, north of San Francisco, May 23, 2019.
Where Does All The Plastic Go?
Hocevar says most plastic is unintentionally dumped into the ocean. Because the plastic is light and there is a lot of it, it ends up in the water runoff from the rainwater or the wind blows it into the water that flows into the rivers and finally the ocean, Hocevar have said. Most of the plastic in the landfill is not there because of its light weight and is accepted by the products, he added.
Bonnie Monteleone, an oceanographer at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and director of the Plastic Ocean Project, told ABC News. .
“Unfortunately, the message to the rest of the world is that Asia is the cause of the problem,” he said.
However, plastic will still find its way into the ocean no matter where a person lives, according to experts.
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“So even if you are on the mountain, if there is debris on the ground, there is a high probability that if it cannot be carried by the wind, the rain will wash it by the storm,” Monteleone said.
Where Hocevar lives in Washington, D.C., plastic can be washed in a sewer that flows into the Anacostia River, he said. From there, the plastic then flows into the Potomac River, into the Chesapeake Bay and then into the Atlantic Ocean, he said.
An undated photo provided by The Ocean Cleanup, March 23, 2018, shows abandoned nets and other plastic debris being pulled from the ocean at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP ), located halfway between Hawaii and California.
There are now 5 trillion pieces of garbage in the world’s oceans, according to The Ocean Cleanup, a special project to rid the ocean of garbage.
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The reason why it is so difficult to clean the existing plastic from the ocean is because of the amount of trash that is present, Hocevar said. There is no method yet developed that can filter plastic out of the water, especially microplastics, Hocevar said.
To make matters more difficult, not all plastic is floating on the surface of the water. Plastic has been found in the farthest reaches of the ocean, from the deepest waters of the Mariana Trench, to the Arctic and Antarctic, Hocevar said.
A study conducted on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast expanse of plastic between California and Hawaii, found microplastics seven times higher than what scientists have found in cities like Los Angeles. , Miami and New York, Hocevar said.
Some cleanup efforts have focused on estuaries to try and capture as much plastic as possible before it flows into the open ocean, Hocevar said.
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This allows the cleanup to happen before the trash hits the most important point of marine life, which is in the shallow waters of the coast, Mallos said.
More than 800 species of marine animals are affected by plastic, and all marine systems are now contaminated, Nick Mallos, director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, told ABC News.
Plastic is a “huge” problem for turtles and sea turtles, which are washed to death with stomachs and throats clogged with plastic, Hocevar said.
Fish and garbage are seen in the nets of a fishing boat during work on the ‘Arcipelago Pulito’ project in the Tyrrhenian Sea, May 24, 2018, in Livorno, Italy.
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Most baby turtles are eating plastic, and most seabirds are eating plastic and feeding plastic to their chicks, Hocevar said. Fish of all sizes also eat plastic, which stores food for humans, he added.
Animals often die “slow, painful deaths,” mostly from starvation, because their stomachs are full of undigested plastic.
This incredible photo courtesy of the California Coastal Commission/UC Davis shows a pile of tires and other debris in the water off the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, Calif.
The best solution to keep plastic from ending up in the ocean is to not do so much, Hocevar said, adding that the “game changer” will be when politicians and leaders work together with environmental advocates to create policies for global health. .
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“The good news is that everyone understands that we have a problem and that we cannot continue as we have been,” Hocevar said. “It makes people realize that we can’t make things that we use once and throw away information that lasts forever.”
Mallos added that companies will need to “radically” redesign plastic packaging and products, and the process for collecting and processing recyclables will need to be improved. old.
This would involve the federal government creating laws on plastic, similar to the bans states such as California, Hawaii and New York have placed on plastic bags, Mallos said.
“So, we will not be able to remove all the plastic that we have already put into the environment, but we can make it worse,” said Hocevar.
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Rethinking the way you use, recycle and dispose of plastic will make a difference in the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean, according to experts.
This will influence people to say no to plastic bags and plastic bags, as well as to use reusable and recyclable materials instead of single-use packaging, Hocevar said.
Mallos recommended small changes like carrying a water bottle at all times, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store and passing straws.
Despite how insignificant it may seem, the world can see “a real impact on the health of the oceans and global health,” Mallos said.
How Much Plastic Ends Up In The Ocean?
Monteleone described an initiative where the Plastic Ocean Project encouraged local restaurants to only provide straws upon request. Participating restaurants find that they will use the same container in a month that they would otherwise use in a day, and in turn, they are saving money, he said.
“The straw is the low-hanging fruit,” he said, adding that it’s one of the “easy” things to switch from.
Opting out of receiving plastic items when ordering home delivery is another small effort that makes a big difference over time, he said.
Also, cleaning the beach is more effective than people think, Monteleone said. Often, people will ask why they should volunteer to clean the beach when the trash will not be recycled, but it is one of the best ways to reduce waste into the ocean, he said.
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“What we really need to do is to prevent too much trash from ending up in our oceans,” said Nancy Wallace, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program. “That’s one thing we can all make a real difference in.”
And if participation in cleaning the beach is not possible, Mallos recommends even just carrying a bag while walking the dog and collecting everything you see. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Share on Flipboard Share on Email Comments
For the first time, scientists have estimated how much plastic in the ocean comes from land, not from ships and fishing boats. And it’s not a small number.
A study published in the journal Science estimates that 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year.
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“This is equivalent to five large trash cans full of plastic
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