A growing plastic smog, now estimated to be over 170 trillion plastic particles afloat in the world’s oceans—Urgent solutions required

Back to Resource Library

A research paper published by 5 Gyres scientists and other research collaborators in the journal PLOS ONE reveals there are more than 170 trillion plastic particles, weighing approximately 2 million tonnes, afloat in the world’s oceans. (Plastic Pollution Coalition notes that this study covers plastic particles found on the ocean’s surface, and plastic particles also exist below the surface making the ocean’s overall plastic load much greater.)

By evaluating trends of ocean plastic from 1979 to 2019, the authors observe a rapid increase of marine plastic pollution and make an urgent call for policy measures, like a legally binding global plastics treaty, focused on source reduction and reuse rather than recycling and cleanup.

Search for additional resources