The Garbage Patch
now has been
estimated to contain a
whopping 1.8 trillion
pieces of plastic, and
covers an area almost
2.5 times larger than
that of modern France.
The American Spark
‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ 16 Times Larger Than Previously
By Cliff Montgomery - Apr. 29th, 2018
A few weeks ago, the corporate media spent a small amount of time informing the public that a large
conglomeration of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California is rapidly growing.
What many of the outlets failed to mention is that this area, known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” is
about 16 times larger than previously thought.
The Garbage Patch now has been estimated to contain a whopping 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, sprawls over
an area of 1.6 million square kilometers (which means it covers an area almost 2.5 times larger than that of
modern France) and is thought to weigh around 80,000 metric tons.
These conclusions were the results of a three-year study of the Garbage Patch “by an international team of
scientists affiliated with The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, six universities and an aerial sensor company,”
according to Science Daily.
The team’s findings have been published in the periodical Scientific Reports.
And this huge mass of plastic is not the only one of its kind: the Great Patch is only “the largest of five major
offshore waste accumulation zones that result from converging ocean currents,” according to the
Independent, the well-known British newspaper.
“Overall you would expect [that] plastic pollution is getting worse in the oceans because we are producing and
using more plastics, globally and annually,” Dr. Laurent Lebreton, a scientist affiliated with the study, told the
Plastic items make up 99 per cent of the Great Patch, according to the researchers.
Perhaps most surprising, the researchers found that a whopping 92% of those plastic items are larger objects;
while microplastics – very small plastic fragments below five millimeters in length – constitute a mere 8% of the
“We were surprised by the amount of large plastic objects we encountered,” Dr. Julia Reisser, Chief Scientist
of the study, told reporters.
“We used to think most of the debris consists of small fragments,” continued Dr. Reisser, “but this new
analysis shines a new light on the scope of the debris.”
The institutions involved in the research hope that their study may provide a more coherent notion of what
plastics actually constitute the Great Patch.
“In order to solve a problem, you really first have to understand the problem,” Boyan Slat, CEO of the Ocean
Cleanup Foundation, told reporters.
Though studies had been made of the Great Patch since the 1970s, those investigations employed only small
nets to collect samples from the area.
“We had this hunch there was this measurement bias towards the smaller pieces, because of the way we
have been sampling in the past,” Slat told the Independent.
Such new findings suggest that before attempts are made to clean up infested ares like the Great Patch,
more thorough examinations are needed of the plastics which form those polluted areas, according to the
“We don’t really have an idea of where and how much plastic there is” in the ocean, Dr. Lebreton told the
Independent, “so I hope the new techniques we introduce here will be used in other parts of the world.”
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