Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans, and that figure could increase by ten-fold over the next 10 years if actions are not taken, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
To determine just how much plastic finds its way into the world’s oceans, researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at University of California, Santa Barbara developed a model that calculated all the sources of ocean debris, and then focused specifically on plastic.
The worst offenders, they found, are the 192 countries situated along an ocean coast. In 2010, the 192 countries altogether generated 275 million metric tons of plastic waste. (One metric ton equals 2,205 pounds.) Based on the researchers’ calculations, 5 to 13 million metric tons of plastic made it to our oceans that year, and most of that waste came from people who live slightly over 30 miles away from the coast.