Facts

Great you are looking for facts about Garbage Patches. Please read the introduction if you like to know more about the phenomena of Garbage Patches.

Let’s start with some impressive facts:

  • Garbage Island will likely double in size in the next ten years according Charles Moore (scientist).
  • Scientist found plastic in 9% of ‘Garbage Patch’ fishes
  • General plastic facts:
    • 7 billion pounds of non recyclable plastic are produced every year
    • Scientific research showed that the chemicals in plastic have been found in people living on Americas, Europe and Asia. This leads in some occasions in limited or no possibility to reproduce (make babies)
    • 7% of the plastic in the U.S. is recycled

If you are new to the subject, the following summary is made for you

There are many places polluted by garbage. Especially plastic is a major contributor because it is not biodegradable. Over time plastic breaks down in small particles of just a few millimeter. These small items of plastic is what people refer to if they mention garbage patches or islands. The best way of visualizing The great Pacific Garbage Patch is to imagine a big soup floating in the ocean like oil does. Areas that contain the largest numbers of plastic are the ocean gyres. These are large systems of moving ocean currents. In a systematic drawing you would see that the water is circulating like a vortex. All garbage automatically goes to the middle and stays floating there.

Our planet has five major ocean gyres:

An other know garbage patch can be found in the Mediterranean Sea. Some facts about the Mediterranean Sea Garbage Patch:

  • 250 billion pieces of plastic
  • Equal to almost 500 tonnes of trash.
  • Most of the plastic particles found were microscopic, each weighing 1.8 milligrams or less
  • These particles of micro-debris are smaller than 5 millimeters in size and are often missed in coast clean-ups.

Here are the basic facts about the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch;

  • 7 million tons of weight
  • Twice the size of Texas
  • Up to 9 feet deep
  • In the Great Pacific Ocean Gyre there is 6 times more plastic than plankton, which the main food for many  ocean animals
  • By estimation 80% of the plastic originates from land; floating in rivers to the ocean or blew by the wind into the ocean
  • The remaining 20% of the plastic originates from oil platforms and ships
  • According scientist it is the largest plastic dump on earth; so plastic patches are larger than waste dumps on land
  • Trash patches consist for 80 percent out of plastic
  • Scientific research from the Scrips Institution of Oceanography in California U.S. shows that 5 to 10% of the fish contain small pieces of plastic.

Further reading that might be interesting for you:

If you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. If you have an additional fact or facts that you would like to share here; please share! Which fact from the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch or plastic do you think is most shocking?

175 thoughts on “Facts

  1. Omg ur blog helped me with my essay at school i wonder what grade i’m going to get! Thanks!!!! ♥ You shine like the ☼= Sun! Who wants my number ;P

    • I am also thinking of doing a paper on a similar subject and I’d like to read yours for more direction if you would be so kind as to share it, if you still have it. we can swap e-mail to send it to me if you can/will

      • Thank you for your comments and interest in this topic.

        Unfortunately, I have no paper about this topic to give you. However, I know others have written papers about this topic.
        If you read this and you want to share your paper with people like Michael, please send me a message and we will list your name and paper at this website.

    • Hi Emily,

      You’re welcome. I love to hear you have studied the topic of garbage patches this much! Congrats with the A+; nice!
      I also hope you will study countless other topics likes this to increase awareness about these important topics.

      Thanks,

      André

  2. Thank you sooo much for the info. i really needed info for garbage island and i found it, this info is better than wikis i rate u guys 10/10
    BTW is garbage patch and garbage island the same thing???

  3. The Great Ocean Garbage Patch :… A swirling sea of plastic bags, bottles and other debris is growing in the North Pacific, and now another one has been found in the Atlantic and many more small spots need the coast line. But the question we need to ask ourself is how did they get there? And is there anything we can do to clean them up? Awareness in blogs like this one is really important to keeping raising the awareness. Probably the most inspiring video I found about this topic is on http://www.thewritefture.org, with Captain Moore the original discoverer of the Garbage Patch talking about the issue and the need for action! Just in case you are not convinced yet for the need for action (http://www.thewritefuture.org/2011/08/islandinthestream.html)

      • Tsunami’s certainly are not helping. What do you think of litter? Where do you think this would end up when it gets into a creek or river?

    • Thank you for your comment and spreading the word. You have chosen a great topic that is interesting, relevant for the society of today, new to many and can ignite good discussions.

  4. i would like to thank you for posting this although it didnt help me with my homework and i still dont know when it was and what parts of the world it actually is its a nice website and ok infomation

    • Great comment! I have red several times that with the current circumstances there are 3 planet Earth’s required to sustain the demand. I can imagine this will add up to a multiple Earth’s if consumption levels further rise. I think we can certainly say that this amount of resources are solely a requirement for humans. It would be hard to justify to blame this to another. By pin pointing the problem, you also give the solution: humans need to change. This is not easy because humans have habits and they do not like to change their habits. I think a large shift can be made when enough people are aware and changing their habits.

    • haha … no worries. I am happy to read the story behind the spamming and last but not least, you found what you were looking for. Great!

  5. I would like to know in what amount, at what dept and in what shape are the fishing nets in the pacific garbage patch. If there were driven there by the vortex-this means there are not stuck to rocks or wreck…so that means that they are easily extract-able from the sea than the ones that are close to the cost and stuck on rocks?

    • Good question! If we are talking about plastic and equal produced materials, the shape is the key to answer your question. The key issue is that this stuff does not fully decompose in materials that can be used by nature. These materials brake in very small pieces, like microscope level, but keep their chemical properties. I have heard about initiatives that extract this stuff the sea. However, if you look to size and location, this is very costly. I also wonder how tiny the filter need to be to get all those tiny parts out of the water. Although these initiatives cannot hurt the real, fast and affordable, solution is to fully stop the use plastic.

    • Thank you, you made a great effort! Where can people donate? There seems to be no link with further information to go on Youtube.

  6. Omg I helped me sooooo much!! Continue !! People like me need u in the worst possible situations…. u helped ussss ESPECIALLY ME! so much appreciation! !!

  7. I don’t really think this has to do with the Garbage patch. I mean it is good to know these facts but how do i fix this problem. Should i call the GEF or something. THIS BLOG IS SOOO COOL

  8. Thank you for the facts. When did The Great Pacific Garbage Patch first start forming and how can we get all the trash out of it?

    • You’re welcome. Good questions. To answer them I will give my view on the topic. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch consist of plastic, and therefore you can say it is equally started when plastics were introduced. There is no hard evidence, since no people have been watching this area from the beginning. However, people always have been a bit reckless with the garbage. After the mass introduction of plastic in the 20th century people have been more and more using it. It all happened in a short period and that explains why there are not plastic continents yet :-) Also the economic growth in the coastal areas in Asia has significantly contributed to the amount of plastics in the oceans.
      There is no working solution yet, but lots of ideas are already presented. One I have seen several times: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/How-the-oceans-can-clean-them-2
      Key is that we stop producing (and buying) something that cannot be recycled by nature.

  9. The great garbage patch is actually caused by the ocean currents moving all the trash in the ocean and where the currents meet the trash piles up and started to build up over time and made the Great Pacific Patch we know today, and day by day it grows larger unless we do something about it.

  10. I have a suggestion on how to fix this problem but do not know where to start ,
    1. Create a water treatment plant dedicated to to ocean water that can sift all of the plastic debris
    2 we would need a tanker ship that could make it to these spots that can vacuum the plastic and water out of the ocean and deliver it back to land to be shipped via train to the water treatment plants
    3. Once the water has been treated it can then be returned back to the ocean .

    Now I know this is not written very well as my grammar is not that great , but I think it is a great way to extract the problem and work towards a real solution .

    • Thank you for your suggestion. As you can imagine there are no quick solutions. So one part of the solution is for sure preventing more pollution from plastic. Although we cannot imagine a world without plastic, technical we have everything to replace it fast. For more information you might like the Solution page from this website.

  11. me encantaría que usted ponga una mejor información aquí acerca de otro lugar en el mundo que tiene este aspecto.

    • Thank you! Also for you and others who read this; if you like to share your project outcome, papers, etc, please leave a message at the contact page.

  12. Pingback: Ocean Garbage Patch | samharryvcd

    • Great questions, I will give you some short answers:
      Why: because humans are not able to keep/throw their garbage in the trash bins and secondly because plastics cannot be recycled by nature.
      How: bad in all kind of ways. For example, big pieces stay in the stomach and causes starvation. Or released chemicals from plastic end up in fish that (also) humans eat causing health issues.

  13. Our economy is gonna be flooded with trash if nobody cares to clean it. I say we should find a solution to this problem.

  14. Pingback: Could The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Be Cleaned In Just 5 Years? | The EcoBeat

  15. Pingback: Great Pacific Garbage Patch | First Affirmative Leadership Blog

  16. This idea has been rolling around in my head for a couple of years, so it’s time to float it out there and maybe start a discussion. Convert large ships to scoop up the plastic in the oceans. Think LST’s from WWII. Separate living animals from plastic, then melt the plastic into 6″ X 12″ X 2′ blocks. The blocks, along with liquid nails (or a similar mastic) could be used to build quick, easy and sturdy shelters for victims of natural or man made disasters. It would take several years to have a significant effect, but I think it would be worth it. Get some big players involved – like the United Nations, billionaires, governments – and a whole fleet of ships could be funded.

    • Great idea! Thank you. I have seen something similar where they use the harvest for building roads (www.businessinsider.com/a-dutch-city-is-planning-to-build-roads-from-recycled-plastic-2015-7)

  17. I think that this was very useful but skipped some details that I needed to know to fully understand you, I read this for a report and you ended the topics to early for me, I was very interested but then there was no more information. Thank you for reading my comment. Very useful but it needs more not good for report.

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  19. Pingback: Cleanse Our Earth- Why We Need to Stop Littering and Toxic Waste! – New Media & Social Change

  20. I am doing a project in school about this topic. I thought this blog was very helpful and would definitely recommend it to others. :)

  21. Pingback: Let’s get PUPing | Sharon Boddy

    • The sea if full of all kinds of animals; from very small to big. They also live at polluted places, including the garbage patches.

  22. Where does all this plastic come from? Is it mostly from plastic bags, bottled water, or some other plastic product?

    • A lot of animals die because they confuse the plastics for the food they normally eat. Their bellies get full of plastics and eventually they die very slowly of starvation.

  23. This blog was not the best. There are too many grammatical and spelling issues. The facts are okay, but too brief to understand fully. More information would be appreciated.

    • Thank you for pointing out. If you read this and would like to contribute in the grammar/spelling, could you please leave a message at the contact page?
      And, if you like to add facts, please share them. Thanks!

  24. I want to know where the research that is being pulled from. the best thing to see would be reports of statistics, data analysis, or research from individuals who have been out to the pacific garbage patch to analyze the particle amount along with estimated weight.

  25. It was good but maybe, you could have added about what is the great pacific garbage patch, and how was it formed, what’s the problem with it, and what happens if we do nothing.
    Other than that this was cool????????

  26. Dear World. When I learned of the patch, I remembered something I was taught many years ago. The ocean plankton was the primary converterof the CO2 to O2. I believe any layer of trash on the ocean surface would retard or prevent that conversion, It is very likely cleaning up of the debre would solve much of our Climate Change. It would certainly make the fish healthier.

  27. When the ocean finally dies all the humans will die with it. How sad! We are the problem, and we have the solution. Clean it up and recycle it before it is too late.

  28. This helped quite a bit for a brochure i was working on- i originally had it finished, but i lost it.
    Thank god friends exist, otherwise i would’ve gotten a 0 on it.. >->;

  29. I would love to know what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made of? Plastic bottles? Fishing nets? etc. ( :

    • Those two, yes, and many other plastic items we often see around at places they should not be. Like plastic bags, packaging, parts of cigarettes, balloons, and so on.

  30. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”? This stuff has been documented for 45 years and nobody’s been able to make a dent in? It’s either fake or everybody bitching about it does nothing to actually minimize it. [admin edit]

    • Quick comment: Many “commons”, like land, water and air are badly managed. There has been (or is) a lack of international cooperation to manage these most valuable and essential resources.

  31. Is there anything that we the people ,who care about this getting worse , can pull together to do. I know for the smart alecs quit littering would help but I mean on a larger scale, thanks very informational, would like to see more on what can be done about this this is totally a discrase in my opinion ,but we all know what they say about opinions lol

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