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Anders Bekeken

The Throwaway Mentality and The 5 Oceanic Gyres

Geschreven op 16-2-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Afval, Milieu, Natuur Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

5gyresTake a look around you- most of what we eat, drink, or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic- a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we then throw away.

This throwaway mentality is a relatively recent phenomenon. Just a generation ago, we packaged our products in reusable or recyclable materials – glass, metals, and paper, and designed products that would last. Today, our landfills and beaches are awash in plastic packaging, and expendable products that have no value at the end of their short lifecycle.

The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth. These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys, and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop. We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains “unaccounted for”, lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.

Around the world, plastic pollution has become a growing plague, clogging our waterways, damaging marine ecosystems, and entering the marine food web. Much of the plastic trash we generate on land flows into our oceans through storm drains and watersheds. It falls from garbage and container trucks, spills out of trashcans, or is tossed carelessly.

In the ocean, some of these plastics- Polycarbonate, Polystrene, and PETE- sink, while LDPE, HDPE, Polypropylene, and foamed plastics float on the oceans surface. Sunlight and wave action cause these floating plastics to fragment, breaking into increasingly smaller particles, but never completely disappearing- at least on any documented time scale. This plastic pollution is becoming a hazard for marine wildlife, and ultimately for us.

Our oceans are dynamic systems, made up of complex networks of currents that circulate water around the world. Large systems of these currents, coupled with wind and the earth’s rotation, create “gyres”, massive, slow rotating whirlpools in which plastic trash can accumulate.

The North Pacific Gyre, the most heavily researched for plastic pollution, spans an area roughly twice the size of the United States – though it is a fluid system, shifting seasonally in size and shape. Designed to last, plastic trash in the gyre will remain for decades or longer, being pushed gently in a slow, clockwise spiral towards the center. Most of the research on plastic trash circulating in oceanic gyres has focused on the North Pacific, but there are 5 major oceanic gyres worldwide, with several smaller gyres in Alaska and Antarctica. Marine researchers don’t yet know the extent to which plastic pollution exists in the world’s oceans. See also Junk Raft

Designed to last, plastic trash in the gyre will remain for decades or longer, being pushed gently in a slow, clockwise spiral towards the center. Most of the research on plastic trash circulating in oceanic gyres has focused on the North Pacific, but there are 5 major oceanic gyres worldwide, with several smaller gyres in Alaska and Antarctica.

As more plastic trash flows from our watersheds to the sea, scientists are finding that plastic debris is accumulating in the each of the 5 oceanic gyres. Research conducted by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation highlighted the “Pacific Garbage Patch”, – an area of plastic accumulation in the North Pacific between California and Hawaii. Studies by the Sea Education Association, (SEA), in the Atlantic have documented plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Gyre. Source: 5Gyres See also: Greetings from the North Atlantic Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Plastic Soup and Plastic Planet – Plastic Soep by Jesse Goossens Trailer Plastic Planet – The Ocean Cleanup: How We Showed the Oceans Could Clean Themselves

Één Reactie

  1. Erik van Erne zegt:

    27 juli 2017 om 13:32 | Permalink

    Humans have created 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste in just over 60 years

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