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Ocean plastics to more than double in next 10 years

Global – Between 4 and 12 million tonnes of plastics are washed into the world’s oceans every year – equivalent to 1.5-4.5% of global production, concludes a new study from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California in the USA. Its findings have been published in the latest issue of ‘Science’ magazine.

Researchers looked at the volume of plastics waste produced by every coastal country in the world and then estimated that between 15-40% of the total ends up in the oceans. A major problem, they concluded, is that some of the 192 countries included in the research have no formal waste management systems.

Ocean plastic volumes will more than double in the next 10 years, the researchers estimate. According to the ‘Science’ magazine article, China generates the most ocean plastic waste at around 3.5 million tonnes per year with the USA ranked twentieth on 110 000 tonnes per annum.

The US Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) says recycling can help alleviate this problem. ‘We think expanded access to recycling is the way to keep plastic out of the oceans,’ comments SPI’s vice president Patty Long. ‘Litter is a behavioural issue, and behaviours must change around the world to keep the oceans plastic-free.’

The NCEAS study is claimed to be ‘the first estimate of plastic marine debris since 1975’, when the National Academy of Sciences in the USA estimated that 0.1% of global plastic production was annually swept out to sea.

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