Information About the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)
Plastic Pollution is a huge problem in all of our oceans today. The plastic in the Pacific Ocean is the largest accumulation of plastic in any ocean. The GPGP has been studied since its discovery in the 1970s. Since 1950 9.1 billion tons of plastic has been made, yet 7 billion tons of it is no longer in use. Only 9% has been recycled and 12% has been burned. The rest (5.5 billion tons) is trash in our landfills and oceans.
Size of the GPGP
As of 2015 the area of the GPGP is 1.6 million square kilometers. That is three times the size of France. It contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, which is 250 pieces for every person on the planet. It weighs 80,000 tons. 92% of the mass of that plastic is from larger pieces, but eventually they will break down into microplastics someday. The patch is growing exponentially.
The Ocean Cleanup
In the summer of 2015 The Ocean Cleanup launched a "Mega Expedition" with thirty ships collecting plastic samples in nets dragged behind them. The mother-ship used two large trawls to be able to collect larger debris. All the samples collected were counted, sorted, and classified. There were 1.2 million pieces and it took many lab technicians two years to complete. They also used an airplane to 3D image the large pieces and cover a larger area of the patch.