Plastic waste mainly collects near the coast

About eighty percent of ocean-washed plastic waste ends up on beaches or floats in coastal waters. The proportion of trapped plastic is particularly high in the coastal areas of Southeast Asia and around the Mediterranean Sea.

An international research team led by the University of Bern reports in the specialist journal “Environmental Research Letters”. Scientists developed a model based on ocean currents and estimated how much of carelessly disposed plastic waste ends up in the oceans.

antarctic mainland plastic free

Assuming that no plastic is collected from beaches or the ocean surface, 77 percent of the floating litter will flow into beaches or coastal waters within five years.

Where the most plastic flows into the oceans, the highest proportion is also found on the coasts, calculated by researchers working with Victor Onik, a doctoral student in physics at the University of Bern. This particularly affects the regions of Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean, where a lot of plastic is carried into the waters of the Nile. Concentrations are lowest in less inhabited areas such as the polar regions, the coast of Chile and parts of the coast of Australia. AND: In the simulation, the Antarctic mainland remained free of plastic.


Furthermore, models show that registered plastics are more likely to end up in the open ocean than elsewhere in the United States, east of Japan, and Indonesia, among others. “It would be particularly effective in these places to collect plastic waste before it goes into the open ocean,” Onik was quoted in a communication from the University of Bern.

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The authors note that admixture from marine sources should also be taken into account in further studies. Because shipping, for example, also plays a role in plastic pollution.

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