More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are afloat in the world’s oceans, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
Ranging in size from a grain of salt to larger than a plastic water bottle, the plastic pollution in the world’s oceans weighs more than 269,000 tons—far more than all the gold ever mined in the world and far more than scientists previously estimated.
And that’s in just a few decades. Good job, humans.
Study author Marcus Eriksen and his team from the 5 Gyres Institute, based in Los Angeles, spent tens of thousands of hours scouring the world’s oceans for plastic between 2007 and 2012. They used trawling nets to scoop particles from the ocean surface and visually counted very large pieces. The study provides a snapshot of the magnitude of marine plastic pollution and its movement around the world’s oceans, said Eriksen.
The estimate is much higher than what previous studies found.
It’s interesting what a hard time we have getting an accurate bead on just how destructive we are as a species.
“It’s evidence that there is too much plastic in the ocean,” Cózar said in an email. “Only two or three generations have been using plastic materials. This provides evidence that the current model of managing plastic materials is economically and ecologically unsustainable.”
Garbage in, garbage in some more.