Plastic Waste In The Ocean. From Convenience To Calamity

Have you ever walked along a beach and had the beauty of the moment marred when you noticed carelessly discarded items interrupting an otherwise pristine view? A walk on nearly any seashore will inevitably turn up discarded cold drink containers, carelessly tossed food wrappers or any number of items that are made of plastic. Unfortunately, these are just a surface representation of what is disposed of in our oceans every day.

Human carelessness and plastic disposal methods currently in use contribute to this unsightly litter… both visible to the human eye and buried in the ocean. What is perhaps even more alarming is the huge cumulative impact of plastic waste in the ocean and the resulting threat to the environment. Although it may be easy to dismiss what we can see with the naked eye and consequently underestimate the damage to the oceans, consider the following disturbing information:

An article from http://greenpeace.org. Entitled, THE TRASH VORTEX explains this alarming situation.
“Around 100 million tons of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the sea. About 20 percent of this is from ships and platforms, the rest from land.”

“A single one liter drinks bottle could break down into enough small fragments to put one on every mile of beach in the entire world. These smaller particles are joined by the small pellets of plastic which are the form in which many new plastics are marketed and which can be lost at sea by the drum load or even a whole container load. These modern day “marine tumbleweeds” have been thrown into sharp focus, not only by the huge quantities removed from beaches by dedicated volunteers, but by the fact that they have been found to accumulate in sea areas where winds and currents are weak.”


The information standing alone is disquieting, but consider the additional impact of other toxic wastes that pollute our once beautiful oceans: wastewater, oil spills and toxic waste. It is evident that we are dealing with a problem that demands a solution. Pollution of the ocean has become a significant problem that impacts not only the ocean but also the entire earth. Because ocean pollution has a negative impact on ocean organisms it follow that it also has an indirect affect on other resources that touch our lives on a daily and continuing basis. Consider these words from www.greenpeace.org.

THE TRASH VORTEX:

”The floating plastics can also affect marine ecosystems in a surprising way, by providing a ready surface for organisms to live on. These plants and animals can then be transported on the plastic far outside their normal habitat. These ocean hitch-hikers can then invade new habitats to become possible nuisance species.

Of course, not all plastic floats. In fact around 70 percent of discarded plastic sinks to the bottom. In the North Sea, Dutch scientists have counted around 110 pieces of litter for every square kilometer of the seabed, a staggering 600,000 tons in the North Sea alone. These plastics can smother the sea bottom and kill the marine life which is found there.

The issue of plastic debris is one that needs to be urgently addressed. At the personal level we can all contribute by avoiding plastics in the things we buy and by disposing of our waste responsibly. Obviously though, there is a need to make ship owners and operators, offshore platforms and fishing boat operators more aware of the consequences of irresponsible disposal of plastic items.

With so many threats to the world oceans including pollution like the plastic getting stuck in this huge trash vortex, over fishing and climate change we urgently need to rescue marine biodiversity in the most effective way possible.” From www.greenpeace.org. THE TRASH VORTEX

As the problems continue to multiply it becomes obvious that alternative solutions to a continually growing environmental threat are met head on with intelligent alternatives to the systems of waste disposal currently in use.

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