Plastics in oceans of the world and Singapore

The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan
Kathy Marks and Daniel Howden, The Independent 5 Feb 08;
A "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said.

How about Singapore? Do we have a plastic pollution problem?

First some excerpts about the global situation...

"The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan."

"About one-fifth of the junk – which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks and carrier bags – is thrown off ships or oil platforms. The rest comes from land."

"Warning: Unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade."

"Modern plastics are so durable that objects half-a-century old have been found in the north Pacific dump. Every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere."

"According to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food."

"Plastic is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans. The UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic."

The full article is on wildsingapore news.

And the situation in Singapore?

From K. L. Ng & J. P. Obbard, 2006. Prevalence of microplastics in Singapore’s coastal marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 52(7): 761-767.

"Microplastics have been recently identified as marine pollutants of significant concern due to their persistence, ubiquity and potential to act as vectors for the transfer and exposure of persistent organic pollutants to marine organisms. This study documents, for the first time, the presence and abundance of microplastics (>1.6 μm) in Singapore’s coastal environment."

"The presence of microplastics in sediments and seawater is likely due to on-going waste disposal practices from industries and recreational activities, and discharge from shipping."

Read more on “Prevalence of microplastics in Singapore’s coastal marine environment.” on the News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore blog

You CAN make a difference!

  • Use less plastic. Consider your consumer choices in plastic packaging and use of plastic bags
  • Dispose of your plastic properly. Every piece of plastic that 'escapes' into the environment stays there for a long, long, LONG time.
  • Join International Coastal Cleanup Singapore to help collect data about marine debris that supports policies to control and reduce the problem.

1 comment:

peizee said...

plastic stew.. it's kinda hard to believe.. but i guess its the 'out of sight out of mind' mentality working. considering how much rubbish we see on our shores, its quite believable.