Marine Debris


Plastic pollution has spread to every ocean

Plastics have entered into all marine habitats and every level of the ocean food chain. Whales, fish, zooplankton, and numerous other animals are eating our trash. Approximately 80% of marine debris comes from land based sources; from streets to streams to rivers to oceans.

Fact #1



About 300 million pounds of plastic is produced globally each year and less than 10 percent of that is recycled.

It is difficult to estimate how long it will take our trash to decompose. For some estimates take a look at this list in NOAA’s Guidebook to Beach and Waterway Cleanups.

Fact #2



Every year we add millions of pounds of plastic to our oceans that collect in gyres. What is a gyre?

An ocean gyre is a large, slow-spinning vortex of ocean currents caused by trade winds and the earth’s constant rotation. There are five major gyres in the world’s oceans that collect, churn and disperse millions of tons of plastic pollution from every continent. Rather than an island or garbage patch, the world’s ocean gyres are a constantly moving “plastic soup” with plastics found in every depth of the water column.

Fact #3



Sea turtles and other marine life can mistake plastic for food.

Plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways is a global crisis. Each year, sea birds, whales, seals, sea turtles and other marine life die after ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in it. Plastic pollution has spread into all marine habitats and every level of the food chain. According to a report released by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, at our current rate, we can expect to have more plastic than fish, by weight, in the world’s oceans by 2050.