A floating plastic island, four times the size of Germany

Great Pacific Garbage Patch - this is the name of the floating island of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.

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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

After a new study with several research trips and flights, an international research team comes to the conclusion that the plastic island is 1,6 million square kilometers large. This means that it is four times as large as the area of Germany or 19 times as large as Austria or three times as large as France and, with almost 80'000 tons, contains far more plastic than previously thought.

Why so much plastic and where does it come from?

Every year, more than 320 million tons of plastic are produced, with an upward trend.

This is written by Laurent Lebreton and his team from "The Ocean Cleanup" in Delft, the Netherlands. The amount of plastic in the water continues to grow, of course also because the population is growing steadily and we can hardly do without plastic.

This is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.
This is what a boat from "The Ocean Cleanup" looks like, with which they fish the plastic out of the sea.
"The Ocean Cleanup" at sea
Garbage fished out of the sea by "The Ocean Cleanup".

What's swimming in the sea?

The Ocean Cleanup team has made estimates. Of the at least 79'000 tonnes of waste, 42'000 tonnes (46%) are megaplastic such as fishing nets and 20'000 tonnes macroplastic such as bottles or crates. According to the study, 10'000 tons are mesoplastic like caps of bottles and about 6'400 tons are microplastic particles with a size of less than five millimeters. So plastic in all shapes and colours floats around in the ocean.

A study by UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) says that already six times more plastic than plankton floats in the sea. The ocean currents create islands out of the plastic masses, the Plastic Islands, which consist of large plastic parts down to the smallest microplastic particles and occupy huge areas of the oceans. They are the result of decades of undemanding production of plastic and a very clear sign of our disposable culture.

Source: www.nature.com, www.theoceancleanup.com

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