Plastics contribute to more than 60 percent of all marine debris. They pose a serious problem to our marine environment as their synthetic material makeup resists natural degradation processes.
They do not biodegrade.
Plastics break down in a photodegrading process —they splinter into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually forming “plastic dust.” During this process, they release toxins that harm the ocean and wildlife and people that depend on it.
Regardless of their size, no creatures can digest plastic pollution bits. We will suffocate the planet with these plastic products, which can never re-enter the life cycle. Plastics in the ocean today will, in some way, stay forever: they will break down into smaller particles, absorb into the food chain or eventually sink to become part of the ocean bottom sediment.
Another anticipated problem is an increased amount of marine debris hitting Hawaii and the West Coast due to the tragic event that struck Japan in March 2011. NOAA’s models show a general path of the marine debris from the tsunami, but because it is impossible to accurately predict ocean currents and winds far in the future, determining an exact date and amount of marine debris that will impact the US is hard to do. More information can found on NOAA’s Marine Debris Website.
Learn some more of the Dirty Facts About Plastics in our oceans.
You play a part by keeping plastic debris and other contaminants out of San Diego street gutters and storm drains. Take a moment think about the end result for each product you buy. Can you truly dispose of “disposable” items or will they last forever in our landfills?
Slideshow photo credits include NOAA and Andre Lima.