Ten Splash Trash Facts about Plastic in our Ocean
We dump 16 billion pounds of plastic into the ocean every year. Eighty percent is washed out to sea from land. The rest is dumped or lost from fishing and shipping boats and cruise ships.
By 2050, there will be more pounds of trash in the ocean than pounds of fish.
At least a million seabirds and 100,000 sea animals are killed by this plastic every year either through ingestion or entanglement.
Plastic never really goes away. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until it is dust. Most of the plastic that has been produced is still on the earth - just in smaller pieces.
Microplastics are smaller than 2/5 inch (5 mm). Primary microplastics - nurdles and microbeads - are deliberately made as small pieces. Secondary microplastics - fragments and microfibers - have broken off from larger plastic objects.
Primary Microplastics - Nurdles: Plastic raw material. It is the form in which plastic is shipped to manufacturers who then melt it down to make their products. They are also used as filler for soft toys and pillows
Primary Microplastics - Microbeads: Used in many personal care products such as toothpaste, facial scrubs, make-up and shaving cream. They are so small and light they aren’t completely removed by wastewater treatment plants and remain in our drinking water.
Microbeads were banned by 2018 by Presidential Decree, but that may change. Check your products for the word polyethylene on the label. This is an easy way to reduce your plastic footprint. Who wants to brush their teeth with plastic?
Fish think the plastic floating the water is food and they eat it.
Then we eat the fish.
Secondary Microplastics - Fragments: Pieces broken off of larger plastic objects. Almost every piece of plastic ever made still exists today, but in smaller and smaller pieces.
Secondary Microplastics - Microfibers: Synthetic (plastic-based) fabrics shed into our water supply when we wash them (polyester, nylon, acrylic and polypropylene). Your fleece jacket may shed up to a million fibers when you wash it!
Like microbeads, microfibers are so small and light they aren’t completely removed by wastewater treatment plants and remain in our drinking water.
The plastic we are eating is extremely toxic and has been linked to cancers, heart disease and birth defects.
Unfortunately, more recycling is not the solution.
We already use more plastic than we have capacity to recycle.
Unfortunately, current ocean cleaning technologies are not the solution.
There is little market for recycled plastic because new plastic is much cheaper and better quality than recycled.
Without a profitable market, recycling companies have to sell their waste to China and India at a loss.
California’s largest recycling company just closed.
90% of plastic trash is under the surface where these technologies can’t reach.
Scooping and skimming kills plankton, krill and other small sea life that larger species depend on.
Plastic in the ocean is a magnet for toxins. It can be a million times more toxic than the water around it. These recovered plastics can’t be recycled; they are too saturated with toxic chemicals.
The only solutions currently are to keep plastic out of the ocean in the first place and to use less plastic.
© SplashTrash 2016
SplashTrash Intl. by SplashTrash Intl. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Please give credit to SplashTrash Intl., the SplashTrash Tour, Bette Booth, www.splashtrash.org