Global number of plastic pieces in oceans 2014

This statistic displays the number of pieces of plastic found on the surface of oceans around the world as of 2014. During this period, the North Pacific was found to contain the most plastic, having some 2 trillion pieces of plastic on its surface. This count includes plastic debris from small microplastics from about 0.33 millimeters in size to macroplastic pieces that are greater than 200 millimeters.

Plastic pollution in oceans globally – additional information

It is estimated that there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic currently floating in the world’s oceans with a total weight of some 268,000 metric tons. In 1988, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted the existence of the Great Pacific garbage patch, hypothesized to have formed from the aggregation of marine pollution through ocean currents. It is estimated to range from some 700,000 to 15,000,000 square kilometers. The fishing industry is considered one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the ocean.

Plastic is especially prominent in garbage patches found in oceans , as they are lightweight, durable, and used by both advanced and developing regions. Plastic is also able to travel for extremely long distances and durations before splitting into tiny fragments. It is estimated that about 92 percent of the plastics in the oceans are microplastics, between 0.33 to 4.75 millimeters. These plastic particles can be detrimental to wildlife: Plastic can absorb toxic chemicals such as DDT and PCBs which are then ingested by plankton-feeding fish. It has been estimated that every year one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die from ingestion or entanglement in marine pollution. As of 2013, only about 14 percent of plastic was recycled worldwide and over 70 percent is either landfilled or leaked into the environment.

Number of surface plastic pieces in oceans worldwide as of 2014

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Release date

May 2016



Survey time period


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Statistics on "Global plastic waste"

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