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Posted Wed Mar 17 2010: from London Daily Telegraph:
The Biggest Dump in the World
Fifty years ago, most flotsam was biodegradable. Now it is 90 per cent plastic. In 2006, the United Nations Environment Programme estimated that there were 46,000 pieces of floating plastic in every square mile of ocean. With its stubborn refusal to biodegrade, all plastic not buried in landfills - roughly half of it - sweeps into streams and sewers and then out into rivers and, finally, the ocean. Some of it - some say as much as 70 per cent - sinks to the ocean floor. The remainder floats, usually within 20 metres of the surface, and is carried into stable circular currents, or gyres "like ocean ring-roads", says Dr Boxall. Once inside these gyres, the plastic is drawn by wind and surface currents towards the centre, where it steadily accumulates. The world's major oceans all have these gyres, and all are gathering rubbish. Although the North Pacific - bordering California, Japan and China - is the biggest, there are also increasingly prominent gyres in the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Our problems with plastics are only just beginning.
[Read more stories about: climate impacts, ecosystem interrelationships, plastic gyre, plastic problems]

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