Humans are putting 8 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans — annually - The Washington PostVast floating islands of plastic are just a drop in the ocean compared with what's lurking deeper down. Between 5 and 13 million tonnes of plastic debris entered the marine environment in 2010 - and most of it is under water. What's more, without improvements in the way we manage waste, it could be 10 times as much each year by 2025.It has been 40 years since the first scientific reports of plastic pollution in the ocean, but we still have plenty to learn. For instance, the combined results from 24 oceanic expeditions published late last year concluded there may be perhaps 244,000 tonnes of floating plastic out there. This is puzzling, because conservative estimates suggest something like 9 million tonnes of plastic have entered the oceans since the 1970s.Now we know there's even more missing plastic than that. Jenna Jambeck at the University of Georgia, Athens, and her colleagues have looked at data on plastic use and disposal in 192 coastal countries. They calculate that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes entered the world's oceans in 2010 alone. This means the amount of plastic that has entered the ocean down the years might be 1000 times more than the mass of floating plastic that scientific surveys have measured.Surprisingly, the 10 countries with the largest problem – many of which are in south-east Asia – generally have relatively low rates of plastic waste generation per person. For instance, in China – which tops the list with an estimate of up to 3.53 million tonnes of plastic marine debris a year – the average person generates about 1.1 kilograms of waste per day of which just 11 per cent is plastic. In the US – at 20 on the list – the average person generates more than twice as much waste. But the top offending countries also have high coastal populations and low rates of plastic recycling.
Late last year we learned that, thanks to human beings, the oceans are carrying at least 5 trillion pieces of floating plastic — or nearly 700 pieces per human alive on the planet. In weight, that’s some 250,000 tons of the stuff.China is lead contributor to plastic trash in oceans, study says (The West would blame China) - LA Times
But new research suggests that even that haul is probably a serious underestimate. In a paper published this week in the journal Science, Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia and a group of colleagues tried to estimate the total amount of plastic going into the oceans annually from 192 coastal countries, whose total population is 6.4 billion. People in these countries within 50 kilometers of the coast, the study estimates, produced 99.5 million metric tons of plastic waste in 2010 — and 31.9 of those million tons, the study estimates, were in some way mismanaged.
Thus, the authors calculate, each year about 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic are entering the oceans — for a midpoint figure of around 8 million metric tons. This is vastly higher than the number cited above — and moreover, it’s an annual number.
The first worldwide estimate of where the ocean's massive amounts of plastic garbage comes from points at China and developing economies in Asia.Plastic Oceans
The study, published online Thursday in the journal Science, estimates that China's heavily coastal population contributes 1.3 million to 3.5 million metric tons of plastic to the world's oceans each year, largely due to mismanaged waste.
Eight of the top 10 contributors were in Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh, according to the study, which estimated that 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic wound up in the world's oceans in 2010.
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