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How Much Plastic is in the Ocean?

9 July 2010 No Comment

Trash diveThere is a really interesting article about how much plastic is in the ocean on discovery.com (analysis by Stiv Wilson of the ocean conservation group 5 Gyres).

… The number he comes up with is staggering: he conservatively estimates there are 315 billion pounds of plastic in the oceans right now.

To help visualize that massive heap of trash, Wilson divides by a “supertanker” — that is, a giant ship that could theoretically sail through the seas, skimming out the plastic junk as it goes (much of which hovers down to 90 feet below the surface).

No such ship has been outfitted to skim plastic. But let’s say it did, and it could hold 500 million pounds of plastic. You’d need 630 of them to do the job, or about 17 percent of the planet’s current fleet of oil tankers …

… But hope is not lost. Wilson added that if we can ratchet down the amount of plastic we throw away, the gyres will naturally spin out much of the junk floating in them. Eventually it will wash ashore, where it can easily be removed.

“I really want to see people’s efforts focused on beach cleanups,” he said. “They’re free, can be organized in a grassroots way, and they can make a massive difference. A hundred people on a beach picking up plastic for a weekend can clean up as much as a barge can hold.”

Source: Read the full article on discovery.com

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