Deadly Numbers

Deadly Numbers

18 February, 2015
275 Million Metric Tonnes
The dangerous reality of how much plastic waste goes into the ocean everyday
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Reports of plastic pollution in the ocean have been widely documented, with information dating back to even the early 1970s. Yet, almost half a century later, we still haven’t identified the detailed figures of the amount and origin of plastic debris in the marine environment. Just this month, an experienced team of environmental engineers and researchers in the US and Australia have finally put a number to the century-long equation. The findings are based on consumer data and waste-management information covering coastal populations around the world.
 
By gathering enough worldwide data on solid waste, population density, and economic status, the team, led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, managed to put an estimate on the mass of land-based plastic waste entering the ocean. They have calculated that 275 million metric tonnes (MT) of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million MT entering the ocean.
 
This report, which has drawn worldwide attention, has been put together to identify the amount of mismanaged plastic waste generated annually by populations living within 50 km off a coast worldwide that can potentially enter the ocean.
 
The report found that China and Indonesia are likely the top sources of plastic reaching the oceans, responsible for more than a third of the plastic bottles, bags and other trash washed out to sea.
 
Despite the public growing more and more aware of the fouls along shorelines from the Arctic to the South Pacific, the actual amounts and sources have not been known because external factors such as consumer habits and pollution-control practices vary so widely worldwide.
 
For the full version of the report, please click here.

By: Ecozine Staff
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