New research published yesterday shows The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing exponentially and now covers 618,000 square miles of deep ocean, making it 3 times the size of France. This is four to 16 times larger than previous estimates.
Leading the research was a team of scientists from The Ocean Cleanup, a PPC member organization, whose aim is to conduct a large-scale cleanup of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
“It is important to quantify it, to understand it and to monitor it to see how it has moved over time,” Laurent Lebreton, a French scientist and lead author of the study, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “Marine life is eating that, so all of this is going up the food chain … and ending up on our plates in some aspect.”
Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan Slat, has said the solution to the global plastic pollution problem cannot only be cleanup: “We’re pleased to see how many initiatives have been taken in the past few years to raise awareness of the ocean pollution problem. However, for our work in the deep ocean to succeed in the long run, it’s crucial that governments and other organizations speed up their efforts to mitigate the sources of the problem we aim to resolve.”
Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition said: “We commend The Ocean Cleanup for the work they are doing to quantify and measure plastic pollution in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Cleanup alone cannot solve the problem, but cleanup coupled with source reduction, stopping the flow of plastic into our environment, can and will lead us to a world free of plastic pollution.”
Photo: Some of plastic collected in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Photo by The Ocean Cleanup.