The results: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. Plastics, including polystyrene, are common in the wads of accumulated, undigested matter that young black-footed albatrosses cough up before they fledge. (We will explain these processes as we study the nature and properties of plastic itself infra.). The term marine debris encompasses more than plastic, including metals (derelict vessels, dumped vehicles, beverage containers), glass (light bulbs, beverage containers, older fishing floats), and other materials (rubber, textiles, lumber). On the other hand, low molecular compounds such as PS oligomer or BPA from plastic decomposition are toxic and can be metabolized! As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% … In South Asia, the growing ship-breaking industry has become a major source of marine debris. It may cause certain types of cancer and it has been linked to negative effects on the liver, kidney, spleen, bone formation, and body weight. Plastics do decompose, though not fully, over a very long period of time (in average 100 to 500 years). The material, called parkesine, was an organic material derived from cellulose that, once heated, could be molded and retained its shape when cooled. Plastic resin pellets are round, shiny and tiny, mostly less than 5mm in diameter. We’ve also seen a shift away from the production of durable plastic, and towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use. National Public Radio reported a few months later that the ban had been a boom for local plastics manufacturers, who have been introducing heavy-duty, recyclable, and even compostable bags into the marketplace. We cannot emphasize enough that the GGP is now characterized by extremely high concentrations of suspended plastic debris for 90 percent, basically a soupy mix of plastic-filled seawater, made of tiny plastic debris that have been trapped by the currents and stretching for maybe thousands of miles, and that is the great problem. The plan responds to the plastic industry’s aggressive expansion of facilities using the country’s oversupply of fracked gas to make throwaway plastic that fills our oceans, landfills and landscapes, contaminating food sources and disrupting essential natural processes. In 1992, twenty containers full of rubber ducks were lost overboard from a ship traveling from China to Seattle. The abysmal depth and extent of the task before us ought to be never as inexhaustible and boundless as our dedication and compelling strive to greater changes. Yet some others large garbage patches are highly expected to be discovered elsewhere, as we’ll see further. Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the worldâs ability to deal with them. The four main land-sources of plastics debris have been identified as: This includes: bags, balloons, beverages bottles, cans, caps, lids, shoes, cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons, food wrappers/containers, six-pack holders, pull tabs, shotgun shells/wadding, straws, stirrers, toys, medical hygiene (condom, syringe), drug and smoking paraphernalia (The filters are made of cellulose acetate, a synthetic polymer (fiber) that can last for many years in the environment), and 55 gallons drums. While SM is already a known carcinogen, SD and ST are suspected to be as well. A simple walk on any beach, anywhere, and the plastic waste spectacle is present. Mainly a consensus needs to happen, as a culture of behavioral changes needs to be promoted. Plastic pollution takes a huge toll on wildlife: More than 700 species, including sea turtles, fish and whales, eat plastic or get tangled up in it. Plastic production has grown 26 percent from 2010 to 2016, and the pollution crisis has become worse due to the pandemic. On 23 of the islands, it was reported that the total litter at the strandline ranged from not detectable to 29.1 items/m (Willoughby et al. Plastic fills our dumps, homes and oceans. SAS and the BPF have worked together on the OCS solution. Numerous industries, such as fashion, are already increasingly focusing on new green materials as a base for their offered products, encouraging a way of life and cultural change toward better choices and awareness of the environment. The 19 islands of the archipelago, including Midway atolls, receive massive quantities of plastic debris, shot out from the Pacific gyres. This zero waste philosophy encourages the redesign of resource’s life cycles, so that all products are reused. The “Silent World” is shedding mermaid tears. However, durable and very slow to degrade, plastic materials that are used in the production of so many products all, ultimately, become waste with staying power. Plastic production is expected to double in 20 years, which will far outstrip our current waste management and recycling capabilities (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016). “The plastic fragments are mostly less than a quarter inch long and are below the surface. Some of the plastic litter is decades old. More publicized and funded is the environmentalist and Adventure Ecology founder David de Rothschild’s expedition: the Plastiki mission. The definition is this: “Any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes.” Marine debris can come in many forms, from a plastic soda bottle to a derelict vessel. In its natural state raw crude oil will biodegrade, but man-made petrochemical compounds made from oil, such as plastic, will not. “The Plastiki voyage will be a great adventure, but I think more exciting is the ability to create a conversation on the issue of plastics.”. It is thus biodegradable. Between 1985 and 1988, an Alaska- based team of researchers found high concentrations of marine debris accumulating in regions governed by vortices like pattern of ocean currents, which lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States to publish a paper, in 1988, mentioning the high probability of the existence of “a large area highly concentrating plastic waste debris in the North Pacific”. In 1972 and 1974, conventions were held in Oslo and Paris, respectively, which resulted in the passing of the OSPAR Convention, an international treaty controlling marine pollution in the north-east Atlantic Ocean around Europe. From the whale, sea lions, and birds to the microscopic organisms called zooplankton, plastic has been, and is, greatly affecting marine life on shore and off shore. So the cumulative input for 2025 would be nearly 20 times the 8 million metric tons estimate – 100 bags of plastic per foot of coastline in the world! In 2008, the published new research from the Algalita foundation team of scientists estimated that the number had doubled. As will be explained infra, the convergence zone is in itself another serious accumulator of traveling plastic debris. Surveys of shorelines around the world, reported by Greenpeace, have recorded the quantity of marine debris either as the number of items per km of shoreline or the number of items per square meter of shoreline. The highest concentrations of DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), the most toxic of all pesticides, were found on the US west coast and Vietnam. The top 3 items found in 2008 were cigarettes butts, plastic bags, and food wrappers/containers. All sea creatures, from the largest to the microscopic organisms are, at one point or another, swallowing the seawater soup instilled with toxic chemicals from plastic decomposition. But the developed world, especially in countries with low recycling rates, also has trouble properly collecting discarded plastics. The effect of coastal littering is obviously compounded by vectors, such as rivers and storm drains, discharging litter from inland urban areas. Plastic certainly makes up the majority of floating litter, but in some areas the debris on the ocean floor may contain sizeable amounts of those other denser types. But once caught up in ocean currents, it can be transported around the world. Plastic is generally a durable material. Consequently, plastic production in 2040 under the Reduce and Substitute scenario (220 Mt/year [200, 240]) was similar to production in 2016 (210 Mt/year [200, 230]). “Plastics are a contaminant that goes beyond the visual”, says Bill Henry of the Long Marine Laboratory, UCSC. Either way, mermaid tears, or fragmented plastic debris, reaching microscopic size over time, remain everywhere and are almost impossible to clean up. Photo: ©© Antoine Giret / Un2Vue. Although plastic pollution is typically considered as biochemically inert , plastic additives are being incorporated during manufacturing processes to improve their properties , . We campaign both alone and in partnerships against single-use plastics such as supermarket carrier bags, microbeads in rinse-off products and other forms of damaging plastic … Thus, the photo degradation of plastic debris makes the matter worse. It is estimated that of the 1.5 million Laysan Albatrosses which inhabit Midway, all of them have plastic in their digestive system; for one third of the chicks, the plastic blockage is deadly, coining Midway Atoll as “albatross graveyards” by five media artists, led by photographer Chris Jordan, who recently filmed and photographed the catastrophic effects of the plastic pollution there. Once in the ocean, it is difficultâif not impossibleâto retrieve plastic waste. Efforts on the part of governments, civil society Shocked by the extent of the plastic litter, Charles Moore went on alerting the world to the existence of this phenomenon. 50 to 80 percent of sea turtles found dead are known to have ingested plastic marine debris. But the washed up or floating plastic pollution is a lot more than an eyesore or a choking/entanglement hazard for marine animals or birds. The industry employs some two million workers. Contracted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Toxic Substances, the CMC produced the report Plastics in the Ocean: More Than a Litter Problem, which was the first study to identify plastics as a significant marine debris hazard. Once in the ocean, plastics persist for centuries, in the form of smaller and smaller particles. “Our understanding of disposal and reuse (of plastic, is what) is to blame.” as many environmentalist such as de Rothschild, said. Carryout restaurants were even required to charge for plastic utensils. It was followed by the most well known piece of International legislation, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships (MARPOL). “It’s controllable,” DougWoodring said. Research into the stomach contents of dead Fulmars from the Netherlands, between 1982 and 2001, found that 96 percent of the birds had plastic fragments in their stomachs with an average of 23 plastic pieces per bird (Van Franeker and Meijboom, 2003). It was shown that plastic pellets suck up these dangerous persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and toxins with a concentration factor that’s almost 1 million times greater compared to the overall concentration of the chemicals in seawater. What is proven, as we’ve seen supra, is that plastic does soak up pollutants, acting as toxic-sponge for man-made toxins present in the ocean, thus accumulating pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals at concentrations up to 1 million times higher than in ocean water (Moore et al, 2001). SAS has already signed up Contico, one of the southwest’s largest plastic factories, to pilot some of the improvements within OCS. Media light was finally brought in force at that point. Swirled by currents, plastic litter accumulates over time at the center of major ocean vortices forming “garbage patches”, i.e. Among the actions the coalition advocates for are a moratorium on new plastic production facilities, using federal purchasing power to curb single-use plastics, tightening regulation of the petrochemical industry, ending fossil fuel subsidies and protecting environmental justice communities from pollution. Seventy percent of the mass eventually sinks, damaging life on the seabed. For instance, studies are underway on glues that could someday replace common marine epoxies and plastics that could replace non-recyclable fiberglass. These slides provide a global overview of plastics production, waste, and pollution of our oceans. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. An estimated 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012, and confirming and upward trend over the past years. This does not include synthetic fibers used in clothing, rope and other products which accounted for 61 million tonnes in 2016. According to the report, the 90 plants that make plastics emitted 55,704 tons of air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, in 2017. Photo source: ©© Bill McDonald, Algalita Foundation / Heal The Bay. It appears then daunting, impossible, a priori, to control, efficiently clean-up, remedy effectively, even sufficiently study the plastic pollution. Plastics contain additives than harm humans and other species: fire retardants, stabilizers, antibiotics, plasticizers, pigments, bisphenol A, phthalates, etc. 5. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. In the summer of 2010, Project Kaisei will launch its second expedition to the North Pacific Gyre where it will send multiple vessels to continue marine debris research and, in particular, to test an array of larger marine debris collection systems. In the birds’ gullets researchers found red plastic particles. “Plastics in daily use are generally assumed to be quite stable,” said study lead researcher Katsuhiko Saido, Ph.D. “We found that plastic in the ocean actually decomposes as it is exposed to the rain and sun and other environmental conditions, giving rise to yet another source of global contamination that will continue into the future.”. Chemicals like PCB’s and DDE are very hydrophobic. It is expected that plastic production will continue to increase, likely doubling by 2025. World plastics* production: 348 million tonnes. A limited body of literature exists, though, concerning these small to microscopic particles (micro debris) mirroring the little research addressed to marine litter on the sea floor. Plastic pollution has become one of the most critical environmental problems because the rapidly growing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them, hence the world is trying many solutions to plastic pollution. Scientists have been searching for solutions to the traditional plastic waste problem. Scientists are still refining methods to detect and analyze the materials. In sum, they estimated the patch area ranged in size from 700,00 km2 to more than 15 million km2; the area may contain over 100 million tons of plastic debris. We could just go out there and scoop up an island,” says Holly Bamford, director of NOAA’s marine debris program. Captain Moore and his Alguita team did see, above the GGP, albatrosses and tropicbirds circling above the line of trash. The scientists from Project Kaisei and Scripps hope their data gives clues as to the density and extent of these debris, especially since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch might have company in the Southern Hemisphere, where scientists say the gyre is four times bigger.” We’re afraid at what we’re going to find in the South Gyre, but we’ve got to go there,” said Tony Haymet. It looks like beautiful ocean. In a September press conference, Doug Woodring from Project Kaisei, said that assessments of the impact of plastic debris on phytoplankton, zooplankton, and mesopelagic (midwater) fishes are undergoing. They are light enough to float in the wind, landing in the earth’s oceans. of Microbiology at the National University of Ireland, but both apply only to styrene compounds. Photo source: ©© Bo Eide, Environmentalists have long denounced plastic as a long-lasting pollutant that does not fully break down, in other terms, not biodegradable. The time taken to degrade can be programmed to a few months or a few years and, until the plastic degrades, it has the same strength and other characteristics as conventional plastic. “We’re afraid at what we’re going to find in the South Gyre, but we’ve got to go there,” said Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution. Marine debris is a global transboundary pollution problem. It can be categorized in primary plastics, such as cigarette butts and bottle caps, or secondary plastics, resulting from the degradation of the primary ones. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. Plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong, and relatively inexpensive. But the developing world still has trouble properly collecting discarded plastics, … He came upon an area, the Doldrums, a windless part of the ocean that mariners usually avoid. The North Pacific gyre has given birth to two large masses of ever-accumulating plastic debris, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, collectively called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GGP). Even though the greatest problem with international legislation is its actual enforcement, the efforts toward concerted actions can only be promoted. Oxo-biodegradable plastic will be engineered to degrade in a short time leaving no harmful residues. Biodegradation, the breaking down of organic substances by natural means, happens all the time in nature. Researchers Barnes and Milner (2005) list five studies which have shown increases in accumulation rates of debris on mid to high latitude coasts of the southern hemisphere. A 2008 scientific review concluded that “prenatal exposure to (…) low doses of BPA alters breast development and increases breast cancer risk”. Mumbai Impressions… when the water retreats… Plastic Pollution. 1997). But before we develop further the realities and consequences of the plastic-covered beaches, seafloor and plastic-instilled seawater, it is necessary to present simple facts about plastic itself. “It’s not a hard and fast number.” There has been extensive media coverage about the garbage patch over the past couple years; however, its reported size and mass have differed from news article to article. The core of the plastic waste instillation in world’s oceans is primarily rooted in poor practices of solid waste management, a lack of infrastructure, various human activities, an inadequate understanding on the part of the public of the potential consequences of their actions, the lack of adequate legal and enforcement systems nationally and internationally, and a lack of financial resources affected to the cause. In April 2002 a dead Minke whale washed up on the Normandy coast in France. Globally, more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since its first large-scale use in the 1950s. DTSC’s Environmental Chemistry Laboratory is currently analyzing some of the plastic marine debris collected at the Great Garbage Patch by Project Kaisei scientists, and explores the potential of converting the plastic collected into new material. Of particular concern are the floating small plastic fragments often referred in the media to as mermaids’ tears, which are tiny nurdles of raw plastic resin that form the building material of every manufactured plastic product, or are granules of domestic waste that have fragmented over the years. Although some delivery services in Europe will use paper packaging. Other major emissions from plastic production processes include sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, methanol, ethylene oxide, and volatile organic compounds. Controversy does exist though, because it is possible that biodegradable plastics do not break down fully, especially under environmental conditions which are not ideal for composting, and leave non-degradable constituents, some of which may be equally, if not more, hazardous. “Plastic is not just an aesthetic problem,” says marine biologist David Barnes of the British Antarctic Survey. When plastic breaks down it doesn’t disappear, it gets smaller creating tiny particles called microplastics. It is postulated that the slow speed at which plastic debris crosses oceans makes it an ideal vehicle for this. The ultimate symbol of our throwaway lifestyle is the plastic bag: 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags is the number consumed annually, which is about a million a minute. “It can actually change entire ecosystems.” He has documented that plastic debris which floats on the oceans, acts as rafts for small sea creatures to grow and travel on. Midways’ beaches, covered with large debris and millions of plastic particles in place of the sand, are suffocating, envenomed by the slow plastic poison continuously washing ashore. Governance of Plastics Production and Pollution Diana Barrowclough and Carolyn Deere Birkbeck* Abstract Despite growing alarm about plastic pollution, the production and use of plastics is forecast to continue to expand over coming decades. our environment, should we confer legal right to it, thus making nature a legal subject/person? After the return of the two vessels from Project Kasei and Scripps (Seaplex), Kaisei and New Horizon, the only certainty was that the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch remains uncertain. And the undisputed leader of cheap convenience is, of … This represents a potential threat for the marine environment should an alien species become established. The solution is to prevent plastic waste from entering rivers and seas in the first place, many scientists and conservationistsâincluding the National Geographic Societyâsay. Most of the plastic trash in the oceans, Earthâs last sink, flows from land. The Centre for Science and Environment says that nearly 80 percent of the river’s pollution is the result of sewage. Modern life would be impossible without plastic – but we have long since lost control over our invention. The Plastiki is about to make its momentous voyage across the Pacific Ocean, a 10,000-mile expedition from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia by the end of this year, to inspire people to rethink current uses and waste of plastic as a resource and bring attention to the GGP. Plastic pollution is currently one of the biggest environmental concerns. Albatross and others birds are choosing plastic pieces because of their similarity to their own food as well. Dr Saido’s study was the first one to look at what actually happens over the years to these tons of plastic waste floating in the world’s oceans. A campaign against river and sea pollution has been called, and people are urged to change their culture of throwing garbage into waterways and other common places. Any trash sent to landfills is minimal. Not absorbed into the natural system, they just float around within it. Plastic debris, of all sizes and shapes, is a transboundary pollution problem with a powerful vehicle, the ocean. Here are 4 main ways that plastic causes air pollution 1. Only 9% was recycled and 12% was incinerated. Despite the known risks of plastic pollution and concern over its mounting presence in the environment, plastic production — driven by fossil fuels like fracked gas and its component chemicals — is on pace to increase by 40% in the next 10 years. What is the relative contribution of each? Studies on small plastic pellet by Dr Richard Thompson and by Hideshige Takada, Yukie Mato professor of organic geochemistry at Tokyo University, have shown that plastic debris meeting other pollutants in the oceans absorbs harmful chemicals from the sea water they float in, acting like a pollution sponges. Plastic pollution is caused by the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. 04. ... About 8 percent of the world’s oil production is used to make plastic. In the United Kingdom, the proposed Marine Bill is designed to “ensure clean healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas, by putting in place better systems for delivering sustainable development of marine and coastal environment”. In 1907 the invention of Bakelite brought about a revolution in materials by introducing … Plastic’s slow decomposition rates is a major obstacle for the rapidly filling landfills all over the world. Photo: ©© Jan Vozenilek-05-0924 / The Midway Journey. “Plastic production and pollution impact public health, the environment, and climate and it has reached crisis levels around the world, with the United States as one of the biggest contributors. Annual plastic production has skyrocketed since the early 1950s, reaching 322 million tonnes in 2015. A simple definition could be: any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be shaped when soft and then hardened, including many types of resins, resinoids, polymers, cellulose derivatives, casein materials, and proteins: used in place of other materials, as glass, wood, and metals, in construction and decoration, for making many articles, as coatings, and, drawn into filaments, for weaving. “Ocean pretty much looks like ocean,” she said. The first-ever European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy adopted on January 2018 will transform the way plastic products are designed, used, produced and recycled in the EU. 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