A new study has suggested that a garbage filed in the Pacific Ocean which was christened as ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ located halfway between Hawaii and California is equivalent to about three times the size of France spanning over 1.6 million square Km. Since no government wanted to intervene in ‘international water’, a crowd-funded campaign launched by “The Ocean Cleanup” conducted an extensive research on the particular area. After three years of research, a group of scientists finally published their study in journal Scientific Reports on March 22, 2018, naming the ginormous garbage field as ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.
Located between Hawaii and California, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest accumulation of ocean plastics on Earth and there are four others spread across the globe. Speaking particularly about the Pacific gyre, it is estimated to contain 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic weighing over 80,000 metric tons of garbage. An international group of scientists working with The Ocean Cleanup performed mapping survey for three years to record and report the accumulation of garbage in the area.
Back in 2015, the organization launched a mega-expedition consisting of 30 vessels that collected over 1.2 million plastic samples scanning over the region of 300 square km. As per the report, the total garbage collected in the region has increased 16 times than it was previously recorded. Scientists were able to analyze that of the total garbage accumulation in the giant ocean plastic field, a mass of 92% was represented by larger objects while only a small 8% was represented by microplastics with the size less than 5mm. They also took pollution into consideration and found out that the levels of pollution around the patch has significantly increased when compared to the data collected in the 1970s.
Plastics were introduced back in the 1950s and today, its annual global consumption has increased to a phenomenal 320 million tons and growing. It is estimated that plastics are difficult to degrade since it would take decades, and even centuries to fully degrade it. Researchers also pointed out towards the increasing inflow of plastic in the patch that has exceeded the amount of outflow.
The team organized by The Ocean Cleanup comprises of 70 engineers, scientists, researchers, and computer modelers brought together with the goal to complete eradicate plastics from the world’s oceans with advanced technology. It is a non-profit organization based in Delft, Netherlands and it has earlier quoted that it can eradicate around 50% of the garbage from the patch in next 5 years, however, the increasing accumulation might have changed the outcome previously suggested.