New research shows that the amount of fragments embedded in the sea floor is far more than the plastic floating on the ocean’s surface.
Plastic waste on a beach in Panama City. Scientists believe that 4.4 million to 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the sea every year. Credit...Luis Acosta/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
New York Times
Our plastic bags seem to end up floating like waterlogged jellyfish in the sea.
Discarded bottles spoil pristine beaches around the world.
Now, scientists have a glimpse of what happens when tiny fragments of plastic break off and end up on the ocean floor.
In what researchers called the first such global estimate, Australia’s national science agency says that 9.25 million to 15.87 million tons of microplastics — fragments measuring between five millimeters and one micrometer — are embedded on the sea floor.
That is far more than on the ocean’s surface.
It is the equivalent of 18 to 24 shopping bags full of small plastic fragments for every foot of coastline on every continent except for Antarctica.
It is an issue that activists have long warned about even as the fight to clean up the ocean has focused largely on the eradication of single-use plastic products like shopping bags. Read more >>