Plastic or planet? White pollution sparks concerns

Photo: National Geographic

The World Oceans Day is marked on June 8 every year, and this year's focus is on preventing plastic pollution which is increasingly endangering the survival of millions of seabirds and marine mammals.

A total of 480 million to 1.27 billion tons of plastic ended up in oceans in 2010, according to a study published in Science journal in 2015.

How does the plastic accumulate in the ocean?

It is estimated that 1.15 million to 2.41 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year from rivers, according to Nature Communications journal.

More than half of the plastic is less dense than the water; therefore, it will not sink in the water.

Where are the plastic from?

It is difficult to determine exactly where the plastic is coming from. There's a lot coming from the Asian and African countries that are dealing with waste management issues, but the western countries also contribute a lot, according NOAA Marine Debris Program Director Nancy Wallace.

Therefore, it is not fair to blame one country or another.

How does the plastic affects marine ecosystems?

Plastic can be harmful to ocean ecosystems.

Bigger plastic can entangle whales or sea turtles, while smaller ones can be ingested.

Plastic contains different chemicals or different pollutants. Once consumed by marine life, they can be potentially eaten by humans.

What is the solution to this issue?

There are many solutions that can help to reduce this issue, such as recycling, using less plastic and developing better waste management systems.

Individual actions can also have a major impact on reducing the problem.


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