POLITICS

Some facts from a new study on the amount of plastic in the world's oceans

02/12/2015 04:22 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT
Some questions and answers about a new study released Thursday on the amount of plastic in the world's oceans:

Question: What did the study find on the amount of plastic in the world's oceans?

Answer: Between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean in 2010.

Q: How does that compare to the total amount of plastic waste?

A: In 2010, a total of 275 million metric tons of plastic waste was generated in the 192 countries with coastlines bordering the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, Mediterranean and Black seas.

Q: How can you visualize the amount of plastic ending up in oceans?

A: Using eight million metric tons as the midpoint, the study says that is the equivalent to finding five grocery bags full of plastic on every foot of coastline in the 192 countries the study examined.

Q: How was the plastic measured and why was that significant?

A: Until this study, scientists took a ship offshore and towed a plankton net. They then counted individual pieces of plastic collected. This study changes that approach by estimating the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean.

Q: What does the future hold if we don't change our ways?

A: One researcher involved in the study forecasts that the cumulative input of plastic waste to the oceans will equal 155 million metric tons by 2025.

Q: How does Canada stack up?

A: Canadians produce a high rate of waste per person. China was by far the biggest generator of mismanaged plastic waste, with several other East Asian countries and the United States making up the top 20 offenders.