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Fighting for Trash Free Seas: The world opens two battlefronts against ocean plastic

Either from land or at sea join the global trash free seas movement and help end plastic pollution worldwide!

With only 9% of the world’s plastic being recycled, and single-use plastics like plastic bags, food packaging, cups and straws being discarded daily in massive quantities, plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems Earth's ecosystems are facing nowadays. This issue is particularly threatening to the world's oceans, which is where most of the litter ends up. Every year 8 million tons of plastic enter marine ecosystems – The equivalent of dumping more than a full garbage truckload in the ocean per minute.

In recent years, however, people have begun to cut back on plastic consumption – a conscious choice prompted by their being increasingly better informed on how dangerous plastic is to both humans and ecosystems. The fact that plastic cannot be dissolved in the environment (instead, plastic breaks apart in various-sized pieces that remain floating in the water indefinitely), for example, is now of common knowledge. As is the fact that plastic absorbs toxic chemicals from the ocean water - which makes it even more lethal to marine life that eat it by mistake (i.e. seabirds, turtles, crustaceans, fish, mollusks, etc.) and also for all seafood consumers.

As society's awareness on the topic grows, and with scientists predicting there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 if things don’t change, people around the world have begun to fight plastic pollution. Some organizations, such as Ocean Conservancy, lead small-scale, volunteer, coastal cleanup initiatives on specific days every year. Many cities have either devised effective waste management plans or use trash skimmer boats to keep their harbors clean, and the UN officially declared war on ocean plastic last year. The UN’s #CleanSeas campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter by 2022 was launched in February 2017, and 50 countries (more than half the world’s coastline) have already joined.

These efforts seek to reduce the amount of land-based source plastics entering the seas, which account for 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Eliminating the tons of plastic already drifting inside them, on the other hand, requires a different approach, and that’s where The Ocean Cleanup comes in. This large-scale project is the first to directly address what was previously thought of as an unsolvable issue, and a first, fully functional system was just launched from San Francisco Bay (USA) into the Pacific on September 8, 2018. System 001 is the result of more than 6 years of research and development, and the first of a fleet of cleanup systems designed to use the ocean currents to clean all five of the world’s garbage patches or “plastic islands”. System 001 is now on a final 14-day test run prior to being deployed long-term into the Ocean Cleanup’s largest target: the North Pacific Garbage Patch (a 1.6 million km2 mass located halfway between Hawaii and California). The goal is to clean 50% of the North Pacific Garbage Patch in just 5 years.

With more countries joining the global trash free seas movement, and two open battle fronts (land and sea), the Earth’s Oceans now have a better chance than ever before of reverting plastic pollution impacts. Join the efforts and help stop plastic consumption.

 

Written by: Clara Gómez

Style and Format: Lila García and Clara Gómez

Provita Sep 15, 2018

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