Density of plastic materials in relation to buoyancy in seawater

Plastic bottle caps made with polypropylene have a density of 0.92 grams per cubic centimeter, which is lighter than seawater's average density of 1.027 grams per cubic centimeter, and therefore, float in seawater. Fishing nets made of polyamide or nylon do not float in seawater because they have a density higher than seawater, at 1.15 grams per cubic centimeter.

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.

Density of selected plastic materials that float or sink in relation to seawater density

Exclusive Premium statistic

You need a Single Account for unlimited access.

  • Full access to 1m statistics

  • Incl. source references

  • Available to download in PNG, PDF, XLS format

Single Account

only $59 / month *
*Duration: 12 months, billed annually, single license

Access to this and all other statistics on 80,000 topics from

$708 / Year

Show detailed source information?
Register for free
Already a member?
Log in
Sources

Release date

August 2016

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

2016

Supplementary notes

Seawater has an average density of 1.027 grams per cubic centimeter, and thus any plastic or other material with a lower density than that will float, and anything with a higher density will sink.

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $708 / Year
Basic Account
Get to know the platform

You only have access to basic statistics.
This statistic is not included in your account!

Single Account
Your perfect start with Statista
  • Instant access to 1m statistics
  • Download in XLS, PDF & PNG format
  • Detailed references

$59 / Month *

Corporate Account
Full access

Corporate solution including all features.

* All products require an annual contract.
   Prices do not include sales tax.

Statistics on "Global plastic waste"

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $708 / Year
Learn more about how Statista can support your business.