How does plastic pollution end up in the ocean?
1. Marine activities (shipping, fishing, illegal dumping); and
2. From land. Around 80% of plastics in the ocean comes from land.
a. From countries with no infrastructure to manage recycling waste (in Australia a lot of recycling is sent off shore so we contribute);
b. Single use plastics e.g. bottles, plastic cutlery, bags, straws etc end up in our rivers and oceans from sewerage overflow, or because of their light weight, they can blow into our drains and rivers;
c. Micro plastics - these can come from a variety of sources including larger plastic pieces that have broken apart, resin pellets used for plastic manufacturing, or in the form of microbeads, which are minute plastic beads used in health and beauty products.
d. Micro fibres - Choice reports: "One cycle of a 6kg load of acrylic clothing or textiles (such as yoga pants, fleece jackets, acrylic onesies, running shorts and microfibre cleaning cloths) in a washing machine could result in over 700,000 plastic microfilaments being shed, according to another study at Plymouth University."
All clothing items – including cotton and wool – shed microfibres when washed, but the natural fibres biodegrade. Synthetic particles are resistant to degradation, are slow to break down and are capable of absorbing toxins.
Ecologist Mark Browne from University College Dublin studied sediment along shorelines around the world and found synthetic microfibres everywhere, but in greatest concentrations near sewage outflows. He calculated that these fibres account for 85% of the human-made material on the shoreline.
The Plymouth University research team compared the shedding of microfibres from different fabrics. Acrylic was shown to be the worst offender, releasing nearly 730,000 tiny filaments in just one wash – almost one and a half times more than polyester and five times more than polyester-cotton blend."
"Sea life and birds die from eating it (plastic) or getting entangled in it. Some of the plastics will also bind with industrial chemicals that have polluted oceans for decades, raising concerns that toxins can make their way into our food chain." [www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org]
Be part of the solution and REDUCE your plastic consumption.