Each liter of sea ice in the Arctic contains 12,000 microplastic particles of 17 different types. The Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany has published a report in the science journal Nature Communications. According to this, more than half of the particles are less than one-twentieth of a millimeter.
Almost a week goes by without an investigation revealing the ravages caused by the improper use of plastic materials. Just fifteen days ago, this happened. The authorities of Murcia (Spain) reported the necropsy results of a sperm whale that died on the beach of Cabo de Palos. It had 29 kilograms of plastic found in its stomach and intestines. It includes a container of water.
Billions of small plastic particles and large pieces haunt all the seas and their depths. The oceans are arriving each year with at least eight million tons of different classes of this product. Manufacturing consumes 6% of the oil taken from the earth’s bowels.
An article in the journal Science studied the corrals in the Pacific region: Australia and Thailand, and Myanmar. It showed that at least 11.000 million microplastics are found in 125,000 corals. This is affecting the health of 89% of the corals. According to Joleah Lamb, who is one of the authors, the microplastic was anything from chairs to baby diapers.
Microplastics are formed when plastics. The cigarette with which the lemonade is taken and then discarded. Those given in the store to load the market. Glasses are dispensed by the coffee machine and the individual sugar packages. They fall apart. They are ingested by many marine animals that confuse them with food.
A study in the specialized publication Scientific Reports has analyzed the currents. According to this, one of the points of the ocean contains about 79.000 tons of plastic. It measures 1.6 million square kilometers, which is 400.000 more than Colombia. The area is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Microplastics are 94% of the 1.8 billion pieces in the patch. They barely contribute 8% of the mass.
And it becomes a dumpster.
Why does so much plastic trash come to the oceans? The production is huge, and the final disposal in an acceptable way is reduced.
In the 50, there were two million tons a year. In 2016 they were 335 million, half of which were only used once. Since the middle of the last century, there have been 8,300 million tons. 6.300 million ended up as garbage. Only 9% was recycled, according to research from the Universities of Georgia and California in Santa Bárbara. The findings were published in the journal Science Advances. It is estimated that 79% of production accumulates in landfills or elsewhere in the environment.
The first studies on the amount of plastic that reaches the oceans occurred in 1975: A stunning 6.4 million tons was found to have been thrown by ships or military operations. Ship accidents also contributed to the numbers.
The latest analysis was presented in 2015 by Jenna Jambeck and colleagues in the prestigious Science. It showed that in 2010 alone, the seas reached 12.7 million tons. Residents in 192 coastal countries contributed, or between 1.7% and 4.6%, of the 32 million metric tons of plastics poorly disposed of in these cities. They enter the sea and become a threat to life.
The researchers from the University of Tasmania came to a frightening but unsurprising conclusion. 18 tons of 18 million pieces had been found on the small and uninhabited Henderson Island in the Pacific. 68% of the waste was a few centimeters under the sand. They estimated that 13,000 pieces arrive each day.
All this has an impact on marine life, apart from affecting ecosystems. A review of studies by S. Gall and R. Thompson of the Center for Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth found reports of 693 species harmed by waste. 17% were harmed due to entanglement with plastic remains or ingestion. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) made the counts. These species are in the red books as threatened or almost threatened.
Calculations by other researchers published in Global Change Biology suggest that 52% of turtles have ingested plastic. Last September, the Colombian Navy published a video of children. They had found a turtle entangled in the fibers of a net on the high seas. They removed it and removed the ropes that held its fins and head. It returned it to the water.
It is striking what happens to the seabirds. The seabirds are one of the most affected groups. 80 of 135 species of cases reported between 1962 and 2012 were individuals who had ingested plastic.
What to do
Although it causes serious environmental damage, it is impossible to assume a life without plastics. From clothes to cars and computers have it. “We sleep in them, and we use them. We see them, and we are in direct contact with them in one way or another. Day and night,” said John Vidal. He said it in The Guardian, former environmental editor of that medium. The problems come from excessive and unnecessary use and inadequate final disposition.
Earth Day Network estimates that we acquire one million plastic bottles every minute, and we use more than 4 billion bags a year. In addition, we consume 500.000 million disposable cups. The packaging of products marks the production, representing in 2015 42% of the plastics without fiber.
For experts like Vidal, it is necessary to go beyond the prohibition of the use of certain items such as bags. We need it to reach a global regulation of these products to rationalize production and use.
In the United Kingdom, the collection of the bags was reduced by 9.000 million these packages. This is an estimated drop of 30% of those that reach the ocean.
The Colombian Ministry of the Environment evaluated the first year of the tax on the stock exchanges. It is estimated that the use per Colombian fell from 25 to 15, with a 30% decrease in its production.
Karnataka in India banned any plastic items from packing or loading.
And about 100 cities in the United States and Canada, in Europe and Asia have banned the use of expanded polystyrene. The intensive use of food packaging is one of the most problematic issues. This is due to the fact that it is not decomposed.
A growing problem arises due to the unnecessary use and consumption of many plastic products. Each person and company is part of this growing problem. We haven’t yet found the incorrect way to close the cycle. How do we solve this challenge?