When it comes to plastic waste in the ocean, the Dutch non-profit organization Ocean Cleanup, which works to solve the plastic problem, has been in the spotlight in recent years. Their devices are already working in the ocean and in the rivers, which “extract” plastic waste from the water.
Lauren Lebreton, head of research at Ocean Cleanup, focused on more than 6,000 hard plastic objects caught in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2019. It is found in the area of the North Pacific Ocean, roughly between Japan and the east coast of North America, on an area of about 1.6 million square kilometers. According to estimates, it consists of about 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating on the surface, with a total weight of about 88 thousand tons. The research results were published by a scientific magazine Scientific Reports.
Waste from fishing
Plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch rather surprisingly, they do not form plastic bottles, cups, plastic bags, bags or packaging. Lebrent’s team’s research showed that approximately 80 percent of floating plastic is related to fishing activities in the open ocean.
These are mainly buoys, floats, plastic boxes or buckets and similar fishing equipment. At the same time, it is worth noting that the results did not include nets and ropes, which would increase the share of fishing on floating plastic even more. About half of the plastic examined dates from the 20th century, with a 1966 buoy identified as the oldest.
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When it comes to the origin of floating plastic, the top five most frequently represented countries are in all cases the fishing powers: Japan (34% of identified floating waste), China (32 percent), both Korea (10%) USA (7%) a Taiwan (6%).
“River remains the main source of plastic waste in the ocean. At the same time, however, it is clear that in the case of floating waste, it will be necessary to limit the supply of plastic from the fishing industry,” points out the founder of Ocean Cleanup Boyan Slat.