Where does 80% of the plastic in the ocean come from?

The remaining 20 to 30% comes from marine sources, such as fishing nets, lines, ropes and abandoned boats. Most of the plastic that enters the ocean does not come from fishing materials, but comes from land-based sources. A team of researchers from the Ocean Cleanup Project and academic research institutions geographically analyzed where rivers are the main sources of plastic pollution that enter the ocean. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year.

Plastic waste is currently the most abundant type of garbage in the ocean and represents 80% of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Plastic is found on the coasts of every continent, and more plastic waste is found near popular tourist destinations and densely populated areas. The global legal and illegal trade in plastic waste can also damage ecosystems, where waste management systems are not sufficient to contain plastic waste. In total, the researchers found that 1,656 of the world's rivers are responsible for 80% of plastic emissions into the ocean.

The main sources of plastic waste found in the ocean come from land and come from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, garbage, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, tire abrasion, construction and illegal dumping. Marine wildlife, such as seabirds, whales, fish and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey; most die of hunger when their stomachs are filled with plastic. The Ocean Cleanup project has an informative video that analyzes the research that led the non-profit organization to understand which rivers emit the most plastic waste. Chris Sherrington, principal consultant at Eunomia, explained why beach cleaning is one of the best ways to combat plastic in the oceans.

The graphic, provided by Eunomia Research %26 Consulting, based in the United Kingdom, shows that more than 80 percent of annual plastic waste, such as beverage bottles and plastic containers, comes from land-based sources. There are many NGOs and non-profit organizations that rely on donations to develop their projects and research to reduce and eliminate plastic from the ocean. Sherrington added that policies to reduce the use of plastic, such as taxes on everyday plastic items and incentives for recycling, could stop waste generation at the source. If you live next to a sea or river, you can volunteer to pick up trash in your local community, thus eliminating plastics from waterways and preventing them from reaching the ocean in the first place.

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