The microplastics problem hit the headlines a few years ago, but it seems that the issue has been somewhat underestimated, with new research revealing that there is between 12 and 21 million tonnes of invisible microplastics in the upper waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Carried out by the National Oceanography Centre and published in the Nature Communications journal, the study focussed on the most commercially prominent and most littered plastic types - polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene.
The figure the researchers arrived at is only for these three types of plastic litter in a limited size range, but it is comparable in magnitude to the estimates of all plastic waste entering this particular ocean in the last 65 years - 17 million tonnes - suggesting that supply of plastic to the ocean has been underestimated… and substantially so.
Co-author of the study professor Richard Lampitt said: “If we assume that the concentration of microplastics we measured at around 200 metres deep is representative of that in the water mass to the seafloor below with an average depth of about 3000 metres, then the Atlantic Ocean might hold about 200 million tonnes of plastic litter in this limited polymer type and size category. This is much more than is thought to have been supplied.”
Facts such as these may well be the inspiration you need to reassess the products you use on a daily basis so you can eliminate as much plastic as possible from your life. There are all sorts of ways in which this can be achieved and the journey starts with a single step… all you have to do is take it!
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