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.