Plastic – It’s a human success story. Since 1950, when high-performance, easy-to-mold plastics began to spread, 9.5 billion tons are produced worldwide. That’s a huge amount, he’s the equivalent of a ton for every person alive today. But only 9% of his plastic ever produced has been recycled, and poor waste management has resulted in him eventually spilling 8 million tons of plastic into rivers, coastlines and the open ocean. .
The planet is struggling to cope with the plastic that permeates every ecosystem. The polymers used in our clothing are found in the digestive tracts of organisms that live in the Mariana Trench, the deepest oceanic canyon on Earth. He is one of only three people to reach the sea floor at a depth of 11,000 meters (36,000 feet). This plastic death success scenario is why the United Nations has made fighting marine pollution a priority. It took time to reach a political consensus, but the irrefutable evidence of marine pollution, especially in the ocean between California and Hawaii, where the “North Pacific Garbage Patch” floats detrimentally to the oceans, has reversed the trend. It has spawned many initiatives to
recent articles in Nature It reports on a study led by oceanographer Laurent Rebreton that analyzed the origin and composition of 6,000 debris (1,100 pounds or 500 kilograms) samples from the North Pacific. A team from the Netherlands-based Ocean Cleanup organization found that five of her countries—Japan, Taiwan, the United States, South Korea, and China (including Hong Kong)—produce most of the waste. Additionally, up to 86% of the large plastic pieces floating in landfills were lost or discarded by fishing vessels. Some objects in the sample are over 60 years old. The extreme longevity of plastics is another indicator that the world is in the Anthropocene geological epoch. This is a time of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems.
But not all marine plastic pollution accumulates in compact masses. This is a big problem for Andrés Cózar, a marine biologist at the University of Cadiz (Spain). Because, apart from a few plastic soup-like deposits on patches and islands, there’s a lot of waste littering the ocean, making it difficult to detect. Cózar said the study Nature While he agrees with other findings, he explains why it’s logical that the objects found in the open ocean either come from fishing vessels or are microplastics: Coast at the tide.
Lebreton’s research describes how plastic accumulates in three different environments. A coastal accumulation of large debris 650 feet (200 meters) above sea level. Accumulation on the surface and deep in the open ocean. Letters and logos on larger plastic objects, more commonly found on rivers and coastlines, allowed the research team to identify their origin. However, microplastics (less than 0.2 inches or 0.5 centimeters) are much more common in ocean currents because they are easily washed away when wave action breaks them into small pieces.
Andrés Cózar is an expert on plastics in marine ecosystems and Director of the Marine Littler Lab (MALUCA) at the University of Cadiz. In 2021, his team will Nature Results from analysis of over 12 million pieces of marine debris. “The North Pacific Garbage Patch is nothing special. The Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean have a similar accumulation of garbage from non-industrialized developing countries and non-fishery waste.”
The aimlessly drifting ghost nets lost by fishing boats catch and kill marine life, as well as microplastics that end up in the digestive tract. Plastic objects are often covered in zooplankton, so many people mistake them for food, but they are deadly,” says Margari Rivas, a marine ecologist at the Institute of Oceanography at the University of Cadiz. said. Rivas is a sea turtle and cetacean expert whose research focuses on the effects of plastic on vertebrates. Because microplastics are too small to bear any identifying marks, Rivas analyzes the composition of polymers (usually polypropylene or polyethylene) and traces their origins to the industries in which they are used. She firmly believes that knowing where the trash comes from is the key to identifying the true source of pollution. I’m here. We have studied other environments, such as the Mediterranean, which have terrible problems. ”
The Mediterranean is Jordi Sierra’s field of study. Sierra, a scientist at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Barcelona (Spain), studies the problem of microplastics. “Everything he wishes was crammed into one big island, but it’s not,” says Sierra, who works with the TECNATOX group to study the intersection of environment and health. He said traceability is key to finding solutions.
“Because of its utility and malleability, plastic is the second-most-manufactured material in the world after cement. Many tons are produced each year, and recycling is difficult,” says Sierra. “But even the polyester fibers in our clothes pose a problem because they fall off in the washing machine. Fibers are everywhere – in the Arctic, in the rain and even in our bodies. It’s the same material as.” Sierra advocates using biodegradable materials and banning single-use packaging, especially in the textile sector.
“The urgency of the issue requires the implementation of the ban and legislative pressure,” said Cózar, as fisheries and developed countries are not the only ones to blame. But given the limited resources available, Cózar is interested in implementing a successful model that is already working to control river pollution. “The days of plastic straws are over, but we must confront the real source of pollution: manufacturers.”
Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit foundation based in the Netherlands that develops technologies to remove plastic waste from water bodies and coordinates scientific research on this subject. Founded in 2013 by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat when he was just 18 years old. After his capitalist, Peter Thiel, saw Surratt’s TED Talk and donated his $100,000, the foundation raised more than $30 million of his in a subsequent funding round. But almost a decade later, The Ocean Cleanup has failed to meet everyone’s lofty expectations.
The foundation has developed several prototype ships that pull nets to collect marine debris, and an interceptor that scoops river litter. But the foundation has been harshly criticized by marine biologists, who say its plastic removal methods ignore proven, true models that are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Others have criticized the foundation for creating step-by-step videos promoting their cleanup efforts.
Andrés Cózar said The Ocean Cleanup is “doing the necessary work and pushing other positive measures. It’s a very good PR machine to make sure the media is aware of all their activities.” There is… but, as I told Boyan, we’re launching projects that have already proven successful and profitable, such as reusing plastic bottles to create garbage barriers. We will also focus more on the rivers that are the source of the problem.”