February 25, 2024

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More than 170 trillion plastic particles are in the world’s oceans

  • New research shows that more than 170 trillion plastic particles weighing nearly 2 million metric tons are floating in the world’s oceans.
  • To address the plastic problem, researchers are calling on lawmakers to take urgent policy measures focused on source reduction and reuse.
  • Member states of the United Nations are set to meet this spring to put together a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

Member states of the United Nations are set to meet this spring with the aim of developing a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

Mounir Oz Zaman | AFP | Getty Images

According to new research, there are more than 170 trillion plastic particles weighing nearly 2 million metric tons in the world’s oceans, and that number could nearly triple by 2040 if no action is taken.

The authors of the peer-reviewed paper, Published Wed In PLOS ONE magazine, he warns that “cleanup is not feasible” if plastic production continues at the current rate. They blame the plastics industry for refusing commitments to purchasing recycled materials or designing to recycle.

To address the plastic problem, the researchers called on lawmakers to take urgent policy measures focused on source reduction and reuse, in order to reduce environmental, social and economic harm.

“The exponential increase in microplastics across the world’s oceans is a stark warning that we must act now on a global scale, stop focusing on cleaning and recycling, and usher in an era of corporate responsibility for the entire life of the things we make,” said Marcus Eriksen, co-founder. For The 5 Gyres Institute, a US group that campaigns to tackle plastic pollution.

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The researchers assessed trends in ocean plastic from 1979 through 2019 and noted a significant increase in the mass and abundance of ocean plastic since 2005.

They say this could reflect a massive increase in plastic production, fragmentation of existing plastic pollution or changes in land-based waste generation and management.

“Cleaning up is not feasible if we continue to produce plastic at the current rate, and we have been hearing about recycling for far too long while at the same time the plastics industry rejects any commitments to purchase recycled materials or design for recycling,” Eriksen said.

“It is time to tackle the plastic problem at the source,” he added.

Without immediate action to reverse the current trend, the rate of plastic entering the world’s oceans was projected to increase 2.6-fold from 2016 to 2040.

Research carried out by a scientist and researchers in plastic to Reuters It was “amazingly visible and beyond comprehension,” following the landmark global plastic pollution treaty adopted by United Nations member states last year.

member states of the United Nations scheduled To meet this spring with the aim of developing a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

It’s critical to create a resolution that addresses the full cycle of plastics, from extraction and manufacturing to end-of-life, say the paper’s authors.

“The increasing accumulation of microplastics in our environments and bodies will eventually lead to the planet’s inability to sustain life as we know it,” Scott Coffin, a research scientist with the California State Water Resources Control Board, said in a statement.

“Now is the time for governments around the world to unite in their efforts to reduce plastic production and increase environmental prevention,” Coffin said.

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