Where does plastic pollution go?


Roughly 10 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean each year, but only about 0.3 million tonnes float on the surface. Where does the rest go? The dizzying variety of forms plastic waste can take means that a fibre’s fate is just one mystery among countless others. Finding out where all the missing plastic ends up can help us figure out which parts of the ocean are most affected by this type of pollution – and where to focus clean-up efforts. But to do that, we need to be able to predict the pathways of different kinds of plastic, which requires large teams of physicists, biologists and mathematicians working together.

University of Alberta physicist Bruce Sutherland and his team of international collaborators shared what they’ve learned so far with The Conversation.


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