Plastic waste stays in oceans for decades

Plastic waste stays in oceans for decades

August 15, 2023

Every year, half a million tons of waste enters the water.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Scientists at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found that 500 thousand tons of plastic waste enters the oceans every year and most of the garbage floats on the surface for decades.

To calculate the types of plastic that enters the ocean and how long it stays on the water surface, the researchers created a 3D computer model of the oceans. The program takes into account currents and their interactions with plastic particles ranging in size from 0.1 millimeters to 1.6 meters. It is reported by TASS with reference to an article in the Nature Geoscience journal.

Calculations have shown that by 2020, 3.2 million tons of plastic waste have accumulated in the oceans. Most of the garbage – about 70 percent – floats on the surface, about 30 percent is at depth. Scientists estimate that half a million tons of garbage enters the ocean every year, of which 45 percent is fishing waste, 39 percent is plastic from coastal regions, and 13 percent of garbage enters the oceans from rivers.

At the same time, the model showed that 95 percent of the plastic floats on the surface and at shallow depths not for several years, as was thought, but for several decades. According to scientists, this will complicate the cleaning of the oceans. If, for example, the dumping of plastic is completely stopped in 2025, then by 2050 the total mass of garbage will decrease by only 30 percent.

Earlier, Russian scientists found that algae in the Arctic are heavily polluted with microplastics. Bacteria and ultraviolet light can help clean up the ocean from plastic. Krasnoyarsk scientists suggested blowing up plastic garbage.

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Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: Olga Polyanskaya

August 15, 2023

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