Plastic Garbage Patch
As we are all well aware, plastic has become a major part of our daily lives over the past century. There are many different forms of plastic out there, and plastic is now used in nearly everything; from everyday food packaging to polymer implants and medical devices all the way to automobile parts and spacecraft’s. Over the years the use of plastic has increased immensely, but unfortunately the recycling of it is still poor.
It takes about 500 years for plastics to decompose in landfills, but another problem also arises when plastics end up in our oceans, a whole 8 million metric tonnes of it, each year! This plastic waste that enters the sea each year can kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures, and scientists have estimated that by 2015 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!
Over the years this plastic waste has created huge plastic garbage patches in different parts of the ocean. These patches consist of increased concentrations of marine debris that are formed from rotating ocean currents. This unfortunately keeps them constantly moving and mixing, which means that instead of the debris being settled in a layer at the surface of the water, is can be found throughout the water column and all the way down to the bottom of the ocean. On top of this, the majority of the debris is microplastics, which are tiny pieces of plastic, less than five millimetres in size. Lots of the microplastics derive from the larger plastic debris that has been broken down into smaller pieces over time and exposure to the waves, salt and sun. Other microplastics could come from microbeads from facewash creams or microfibers from synthetic clothing.
Research carried out in these patch areas revealed that the overall concentration of plastics was seven times greater than the concentration of zooplankton.
As the microplastic particles are so small they are easily ingested by sea life, and then passed up the food chain ending up in human consumption. The patch is also very dangerous for the animals as they pass through it and often get tangled up in the debris and die.
New efforts to clean the patches up have been developed, but the timing is crucial as the patches are growing exponentially.
As we emphasize a lot here at Eco Wear our effort is and will be a better future with less plastic. Start today however you can. First reduce and then reuse and recycle. And if you are looking for some help visit us at www.eco-wear.co.uk