February 13, 2015
About 8 million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the oceans each year, according to a study published today by a group of scientists at the UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. The number is expected to increase unless countries are able to “turn off the faucet,” Kara Lavender Law, one author of the study, said.
Researchers found that in 2010, there was more than 4.8 million metric tons of plastic waste going into the ocean every year, and the number could be as high as 12.7 million metric tons, making it an average of about 8 million metric tons, one to three times the amount previously thought.
A total of 192 countries that border the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans and Mediterranean and Black seas were examined, and results show that combined, the countries contributed 2.5 billion metric tons of solid waste, 275 million metric tons of which are plastic. Of that 275 million, about 99.5 million metric tons is on the coast with about 8 million making its way from the coast to the ocean.