Density of plastic materials in relation to buoyancy in seawater
Plastic waste in the world’s oceans
Plastic waste is a growing issue in the world’s oceans, in addition to being a problem on land. Some plastic materials sink in seawater, while others will float, depending on their density. The sustained inputs of plastic waste to the world’s oceans over decades has resulted in five enormous clusters of plastic waste within the five major ocean gyres, which are large, rotating ocean currents. The Great Pacific Garbage patch, for example, is estimated to be 15 million square kilometers in size.
Where does the plastic come from?
A certain amount of the plastic in the oceans enters via rivers. This plastic enters rivers through storm drains, marinas, harbors, docks, and so on. Approximately 60 percent of oceanic plastic pollution is derived from discarded fishing gear. The size of plastic pieces in the ocean ranges from fishing nets that are miles long, to microplastics, which are fragments of plastic that are less than five milimeters in size. Of the microplastics in the ocean, the largest share comes from synthetic textiles.