Waste plastics at the sea has emerged as one of the most difficult to resolve global waste and resource management challenges of our times. Human ingenuity granted us with plastics: a stunningly versatile family of materials, which have been rapidly transforming our everyday lives by introducing unprecedented functionality over the last 60 years. The global plastics production, mainly petroleum-based, was at 280 million metric tonnes (Mt) in 2012, with a worldwide average annual growth of around 3.5% wt. between 2002 and 2011, according to PlasticsEurope. Part of the functionality of plastics is their low (bio)degradability in an variety of environments: we do need products that maintain their integrity and form throughout their useful life. Another main attribute of their functionality is their low density: making objects lighter has multiple benefits. But, it is precisely these two main features that enable the accumulation of uncollected used plastics floating in our seas and washing up on our shores.
Velis CA., Waste Management & Research, Vol. 32 (4), p. 251– 253, 2014