What Percent Of Plastic Ends Up In The Ocean – The proliferation of plastic products in recent decades has been amazing. Simply put, people are addicted to this stuff which is almost irresistible. We produce over 380 million tonnes of plastic each year, and some reports suggest that up to 50% of that is for single-use purposes – used for just a few minutes, but on the planet for at least hundreds of years. It is estimated that over 10 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans each year.
Plastic is cheap and very flexible with properties that make it ideal for many applications. However, these features have also led to an environmental issue. We have developed a “powerful” lifestyle and it is estimated that around 50% of plastic is used only once and thrown away.
What Percent Of Plastic Ends Up In The Ocean
Plastic is a valuable resource in many ways, but plastic pollution is an unnecessary and unsustainable waste of that resource.
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Good morning everyone. My name is Jenna and I am an assistant professor of environmental engineering from the University of Georgia. When I had to choose a focus in environmental engineering, I fell in love with the study of solid waste, that is garbage, or better known as anything that you recycle or throw away every day. The reason I felt that waste was so different from designing water or wastewater facilities was that it was so closely related to people. And people have strong opinions about it – especially when a waste management system may be physically close to them. But it is something we create every day and have to manage. So as I speak today, I will go over many numbers, but as I do, I hope you will keep in mind the same thing I do – that people are always on behind these numbers.
We seem to have been hearing a lot lately about the concerns about plastic in our oceans and estimates of plastic in the ocean. Research interest in this matter has grown significantly in the last 10 years. And the results you hear today arise from a scientific working group that was established at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis 3.5 years ago. We are a diverse group – oceanographers, marine ecologists, solid waste experts, statisticians, industrial ecologists, polymer scientists and engineers. When we came together, our starting point was to ask ourselves – What are the main sources of plastic in the ocean? Quickly, we discovered that land-based input would be a key source. So we decided to find out how much it was.
Now what we’ve done is different than the numbers you’ve heard before – these numbers measure how much plastic is already in the ocean – we call it “the sustainable stock” this. What we looked at was annual input – what goes in each year. And this is exciting to report because this is the first time we have been able to connect the ocean to the land with a number, and I will explain more about this number but the way we are more comfortable reporting this is a say “We estimate that people put 8 million metric tons – and a metric ton is 1000 kilograms, so that’s 8.8 million US tons – of plastic into the ocean in 2010.”
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Our methods for this estimate were to look at per capita waste generation rates in 2010 from 192 coastal countries in the world. As human activities closest to the coast are responsible for most of the plastic entering the water, we restricted our analysis to a 50km strip of coastline. From there, we looked at what percentage of that waste is plastic, and what percentage of that is unsustainable waste (which means waste or when waste is not captured and dumped on the land). From there we had three settings of input into the ocean: low, medium and high. Our estimate of 8 million metric tons is that mid-range position. There are 8 million metric tons of plastic equivalent to 5 bags (like this) full of plastic entering the ocean on every foot of the world’s coastline. That’s… awesome.
And it can get worse. If we accept the projection of business as usual with growing populations, increased plastic consumption and more waste generation, by 2025, this number will double – we may be adding 17.5 million metric ton of plastic added each year. If that happens, our cumulative input over the period from 2010 to 2025 is expected to be 155 million metric tons.
The purpose of this work was to create this global estimate. But remember what I said before – behind these numbers are people, people living in culturally and socially diverse countries of the world. And we had to use country-level data to build out our framework – so we actually have a list of countries that are really contributing. And this has been getting a lot of attention so I want to be clear about how we think about this list – it’s not about pointing fingers, but checking things out which has a strong influence on the status of a country in this list: first, the population density in this list. coasts – how many people generate waste within 50 kilometers of the sea? Next, how much plastic waste does each person generate? And finally the percentage of unwanted waste plays a role – how much of what these people throw away accidentally ends up in the ocean? So what you find near the top are mostly middle income countries with fast growing economies that are not yet able to develop waste management systems to deal with the increase in waste generation that comes with economic growth. There is one high-income country on the list, the United States, and although our waste management systems are well designed and very efficient, and the only mismanaged waste is waste, We have a large coastal population and a large waste generation rate.
We know the solutions: we need to cut back on plastic waste generation and increase what we capture and manage properly. That sounds simple. We know how to design waste management systems, but waste management is not just a design problem, it also has social and cultural dimensions. So we need to work together at a variety of local and global initiatives… By changing the way we think about waste, value its management, collect it, capture it and keep it in, we can open new jobs and opportunities for economic innovation, and in addition, improve living conditions and health for millions of people around the country. world and protect our oceans.
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Good morning. My name is Kara Lavender Law. I am a research professor of oceanography at the Marine Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, MA, home of the SEA Semester undergraduate study abroad program. Together with our students I have sailed and sampled both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for plastic debris, and for the past 8 years I have been actively researching sources , distribution and fate of plastic in the ocean.
Why do we care how much plastic is in the ocean? Although I would argue that any plastic in the ocean is too much plastic, we ultimately want to know how this pollution affects the ocean and marine life to special – not only sea turtles, whales and seabirds, but also animals at the bottom of the food web all the way up to what we call seafood.
As Jenna mentioned, two recent studies estimated the amount of plastic floating in the ocean around the world. These studies, and ours, attempt to put a single number on the current scale of the ocean plastic problem in all the world’s oceans. Before now we have taken ships far out to sea to drag plankton nets one meter wide, one nautical mile at a time, to collect and count the number of pieces of plastic at the sea surface. These data are limited, given the size of the oceans and the cost of taking ships far from shore, they are difficult to collect, and we only measure the plastic that floats.
This new study looks at the other side of the equation. Instead of trying to measure what’s already in the ocean, we estimated what’s coming into the ocean
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