The quantity of marine plastic debris on our ocean beaches is increasing.
Poor plastic waste management on land, as well as plastics dumped directly into the ocean through fishery and maritime activities, means that much of this plastic will eventually reach landfall. The global production of plastic has increased from 1.5 million tons in 1950 to 230 million tons in 2009, with an average annual growth of around 9% (PlasticsEurope, 2010). There are hundreds of millions of tons of fragmented plastics free in the North Pacific marine system alone, and this problem is growing.
Microplastic materials are toxic.
Marine plastics contain two types of chemicals: additive-derived chemicals and hydrophobic chemicals which are absorbed from the surrounding seawater (Teuten et al., 2009). Toxic organic contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and nonylphenols have been detected in marine plastics (Mato et al., 2001). When ingested, this material has a devastating effect on marine life of all kinds.