Only 1% of the plastic waste in the world’s oceans is immediately visible.
That’s the warning from Elda Miramontes. Junior Professor of Sedimentology at the University of Bremen, who spoke to ELN about the environmental dangers posed by often-invisible microplastics – the professor said the vast majority of the plastic waste in the seas is suspended in the water or lies on the seabed.
She noted microplastics come from a variety of sources, such as clothes being washed, packaging waste, industrial output and disintegrating fishing nets.
The professor suggested build-ups of plastic were focused in certain areas, such as deep-sea, remote regions, where they can be carried by sediment avalanches and ocean currents – she warned this could lead to particularly damaging impacts as such areas are generally very biodiverse.
She said: “The problem of plastics is that they last for a very long time so the rate of degradation is very slow and if we keep producing at this rate they will keep accumulating in the oceans.”