The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans. It is located halfway between Hawaii and California.
Highlights from the Article
1.15 TO 2.41 MILLION METRIC TONNES OF PLASTIC ARE ENTERING THE OCEAN EACH YEAR.
THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH COVERS AN ESTIMATED SURFACE OF 1.6 MILLION SQUARE KILOMETERS
80’000 TONNES OF PLASTIC FLOAT IN THE GPGP, EQUIVALENT TO 500 JUMBO JETS
4 TO 16 TIMES MORE PLASTIC IN THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH THAN PREVIOUSLY ESTIMATED
Plastic within the patch was categorized into four size classes:
– Microplastics (0.05 – 0.5 cm)
– Mesoplastics (0.5 – 5 cm)
– Macroplastics (5 – 50 cm)
– Megaplastics (anything above 50 cm)
When accounting for the total mass, 92% of the debris found in the patch consists of objects larger than 0.5 cm, and three-quarters of the total mass is made of macro- and mega plastic. However, in terms of object count, 94% of the total is represented by microplastics.
Not only does plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch pose risks for the safety and health of marine animals, but there are health and economic implications for humans as well.
- Laurent C. M. Lebreton, et al., “Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic,” Scientific Reports 8, no. 4666 (March 2018), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22939-w ↩
- Laurent C. M. Lebreton, et al., “River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans,” Nature Communications 8, no. 15611 (June 2017), http://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15611 ↩
- Qiqing Chen, et al., “Pollutants in Plastics within the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre,” Environmental Science and Technology 52, no. 2 (November 2017): 446-456, http://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b04682 ↩
- Julia Reisser, et al., “The vertical distribution of buoyant plastics at sea: an observational study in the North Atlantic Gyre,” Biogeosciences 12 (February 2015): 1249-1256, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-12-1249-2015 ↩
- Merel Kooi, et al., “The effect of particle properties on the depth profile of buoyant plastics in the ocean,” Scientific Reports 92, 1-2 (March 2015): 170-179, http://doi.org/10.1038/srep33882 ↩
- Sarah Gall, Richard C. Thompson, “The impact of debris on marine life,” Marine Pollution Bulletin 6, no. 33882 (October 2016), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.12.041 ↩