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Where does plastic pollution go when it enters the ocean?

By Bruce Sutherland, Professor of Physics, University of Alberta
Michelle DiBenedetto, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington
Ton van den Bremer, Associate Professor of Engineering, Delft University of Technology
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Of the hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastic waste we produce each year, it’s estimated that around ten million tonnes enters the ocean. Roughly half of the plastics produced are less dense than water, and so they float. But scientists estimate that there are only about 0.3 million tonnes of plastic floating at the ocean surface, so where is the rest of it going?

Consider the journey of a plastic fibre that’s shed from your fleece. A heavy…

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