The pollution of seas and oceans is another of the great environmental problems that humanity faces. There is a huge amount of garbage in the sea and more than 80% of this is plastic waste. That is why the image of plastic islands in the sea It is becoming more and more common for us, but could you imagine an ocean with more plastics than fish? It seems like science fiction, although the truth is that, if we continue with the current rate of plastic consumption, that will be possible and we will have authentic seas of plastic around the year 2050.
Do you want to know what causes the accumulation of plastics in the sea, as well as the consequences of plastic pollution in the sea? Do you want to know if there are solutions? We analyze all these questions in this complete article by Ecologist Verde on the plastics in the sea, its causes, consequences and solutions, Stay to find out everything!
We start by explaining how does plastic get into the sea. When we dispose of plastics that we no longer use, they can follow several routes: they can be incinerated, recycled, end up in a landfill or anywhere in our environment if we don't dispose of them properly. Those that are not recycled or incinerated, even those that are still in the yellow container, are likely to be washed out to sea or towards the rivers that flow into it due to the action of the wind and rain.
In addition, we also find plastics in the sea that originate from garbage dumps deliberate accidental spills from ships or in the effluents of treatment plants or wastewater treatment plants. Although, none of this would happen, or at least not on such a large scale, if before we did not manufacture them in the immense quantities that we do.
As we said, more than 80% of marine litter is plastic and these can be of various types. Thus, we have to:
Regarding the most abundant (single-use), recent studies affirm that there is a large amount of plastic on the beaches that informs us about the types of single-use plastics most common that affect marine pollution so much. From highest to lowest amount, these are:
These top ten products account for 86% of single-use plastics or 43% of all marine litter.
How much plastic is there in the sea? What quantities are we talking about? Well, it is estimated that, each year, no less than 4.8 to 12.7 million tons end up in the oceans, having already accumulated in our seas more than a whopping 150 million tons.
And where can we find it? Plastic can be found in every corner of the planet, they have even been found plastics at 10,000 meters depth. However, five areas have been identified where there is a great concentration; they are known as "islands" or "soups" made of plastic. There is a plastic soup in the Indian Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean (North and South) and two in the Pacific Ocean (North and South), and they are located in those places due to the marine currents.
In these plastic islands, the most accumulated waste is microplastics, which are the product of the degradation of plastics into smaller pieces as a result of the sun's ultraviolet radiation and the force of waves. They can also be generated nanoplastics, even smaller than the previous ones, causing both serious problems of unknown extent. Likewise, these microplastics are also generated when tires wear out and when we wash synthetic fibers. We even intentionally produce microplastics to put in some scrubs and soaps. Here you can learn more about what are microplastics and their types. Also, here below you can see a video about the plastic islands.
We are currently in the "Age of Plastic", we manufacture it in huge quantities because it is amazingly useful. However, we must not forget that it is also amazingly resistant, which makes its degradation extremely difficult, taking mother nature from a few decades to centuries to break it down and reabsorb it. Here we tell you how long it takes for plastic to degrade.
Let's see below how plastic affects the sea, as the aforementioned is not without consequences for our environment. The main problems of plastic in the sea are:
How to avoid plastics in the sea? The solutions go through implementing actions in which producers, consumers and those who manage waste intervene and, of course, they must be supported by governments. The main solutions are:
And what do we do with the plastics that are already in the sea? Some are also proposed solutions for plastics in the sea:
Now that you have learned all this, we encourage you to learn more about the problem of plastics, not just the problems in the seas, with this other article by Green Ecologist on the causes, consequences and solutions of plastic pollution. In addition, here below you can see a video from our YouTube channel about this problem of plastics in the seas and oceans.
If you want to read more articles similar to Plastics in the sea: causes, consequences and solutions, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.