Solutions to Plastic Pollution in our Oceans The Basics We’re treating the oceans like a trash bin: around 80 percent of marine litter originates on land, and most of that is plastic. Plastic that pollutes our oceans and waterways has severe impacts on our environment and our economy. Seabirds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life are eating marine plastic pollution and dying from choking, intestinal blockage and starvation. Scientists are investigating the long-term impacts of toxic pollutants absorbed, transported, and consumed by fish and other marine life, including the potential effects on human health.
What it means to you Plastic pollution affects every waterway, sea and ocean in the world. When we damage our water systems, we’re putting our own well-being at risk. This pollution also has huge costs for taxpayers and local governments that must clean this trash off of beaches and streets to protect public health, prevent flooding from trash-blocked storm drains, and avoid lost tourism revenue from filthy beaches. NRC analyzed a sunny of 95 California communities and found their total reported annual costs for preventing litter from becoming pollution is 5428 million per year.
See Marc’s Waste in Our Waterways: Unveiling the Hidden Costs to Californians of Litter Cleanup. Solutions The most effective way to stop plastic pollution in our oceans is to make sure it never reaches the water in the first place. We all need to do our fair share to stop plastic pollution: individuals need to recycle and never litter, but producers of single use plastic packaging need to do more too. We need producers to design packaging so that it is fully recyclable, and so there is less waste. We also need producers to help cover the costs of keeping their products out of the ocean. Http://www. 3rd. Org/oceans/plastic-ocean/ The Problem of Marine Plastic Pollution Most marine debris (80%) comes from trash and debris in urban runoff, I. E. Land-based sources. Key components of land-based sources include litter, trash and debris from construction, ports and marinas, commercial and industrial facilities, and trash blown out of garbage containers, trucks, and landfills. L Ocean-based sources, such as, overboard discharges from ships and discarded fishing gear, account for the other 20%.
Food containers and packaging are the largest component of the municipal solid waste stream (80 lions tons or 31. 7 %). 2 These items, together with plastic bags, also represent the largest component of marine debris (that is, barring items less than mm such as pre-production plastic pellets, fragments, and polystyrene pieces). 3 Packaging and single use disposable products are not only ubiquitous in marine debris, they represent an unsustainable use of precious resources (Oil, trees, energy sources, water). The quantity Of marine debris is increasing in oceans world-wide.
Researchers at the Legality Marine Research Foundation documented an increase in plastic debris in the Central Pacific Gyred five-fold between 1 997 and 2007, where the baseline in 1 997 showed plastic pieces outnumbered plankton on the ocean surface 6:1. 4 Off Japan’s coast, the quantity of pelagic plastic particles floating increased 10 fold in 10 years between the sass and 1 sass, and then 10 fold every 2-3 years in the sass. 5 In the Southern Ocean, plastic debris increased 100 times during the early sass. These increases in plastic debris occurred at the same time that worldwide production of plastic fibers quadrupled. In the ocean, plastic debris injures and kills fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Marine plastic elution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species. The impacts include fatalities as a result of ingestion, starvation, suffocation, infection, drowning, and entanglement. 7 In 2010, a California grey whale washed up dead on the shores of the Upset Sound.
Autopsies indicated that its stomach contained a pair of pants and a golf ball, more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, duct tape and surgical gloves. Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface are especially prone to ingesting plastic debris that loots. Adults feed these items to their chicks resulting in detrimental effects on chick growth and survival. 8 One study found that approximately 98% of chicks sampled contained plastic and the quantity of plastic being ingested was increasing over time. Because persistent organic pollutants in the marine environment attach to the surface of plastic debris, floating plastics in the oceans have been found to accumulate pollutants and transport them through ocean currents. 10 Floating and migrating plastic debris has also been found to transport invasive marine species. 1 1 Increasingly, research shows hat marine life that ingests plastics coated with pollutants can absorb these pollutants their bodies. Plastic debris is polluting the human food chain.
In a 2008 Pacific Gyred voyage, Legality researchers began finding that fish are ingesting plastic fragments and debris. Of the 672 fish caught during that voyage, 35% had ingested plastic pieces. The plastics industry, through the leadership of the American Chemical Council (AC), spends millions of dollars each year to convince policy makers and Californians that solutions to plastic pollution lie in anti-litter campaigns that attribute the responsibility for urine debris on individual behavior.
Yet they have devoted little funding to public education and much more on promoting policies that support increased use of plastics. While increased public education to prevent littering is important, proper management of litter fails to address the unsustainable consumption of resources involved in producing packaging and single use disposable goods. Furthermore, as the amount of disposable packaging and products continues to increase, controlling litter through public education and cleanup of streets and waterways requires significant and sustained funding.
Preventing the generation of disposable products as much as possible reduces the amount of money needed for controlling and managing trash and litter. Prevention is both cost-effective and better for the environment. Http://www. Clearwater. Org/feature/problem-of-marine-plastic- pollution Plastic is literally at my fingertips all day long. Plastic keyboard. Plastic framed computer monitor. Plastic mouse. The amount of plastic encounter daily doesn’t end there. Chances are, you can relate. Plastic is an epidemic. But where does all this plastic go? We ship some of it overseas to be recycled.