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Posted Mon May 23 2011: from New York Times:
How to Rid the Seas of 'Plastic Soup'?
The problem is not just one of unsightliness, or of sea life getting caught up in plastic grocery bags or choking on plastic bottle tops or cigarette lighters. There are also the tiny fragments formed by disintegrating items. Plastic does not fully biodegrade like wood or cardboard, noted Peter Kershaw of the British marine science center Cefas, who advises the United Nations on marine environmental protection issues. For plastic to biodegrade, you need conditions that are really only found in industrial composters and landfills, including high temperatures. ''You don't have those conditions in the middle of the sea,'' he said. Instead, the plastic trash eventually breaks up into billions of fragments that hover below the surface in vast, soupy patches in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Easily swallowed by marine life and prone to absorbing contaminants in the water, this gunk is now a key focus of scientific concern, with some researchers worrying that the stuff could end up in the food chain. ''It is everywhere and in every water sample that we have collected since 1999,'' said Marieta Francis, executive director of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in California.
[Read more stories about: plastic problems, plastic gyre, habitat loss]
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Can't we just throw the plastic soup away?

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