Where is all the sea plastic coming from

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So I was wondering.  When they talk about all the plastic at sea why they don't seem to mention where its actually coming from... It seems if this article is to be believed that they do know where its coming from so the answer to this seems obvious? Even though I do have to agree we do use too much plastic.. But the issue for me is how its getting in to the sea and how we stop that.. Lessening our use of plastic can come later. 

http://www.dw.com/en/almost-all-plastic-in-the-ocean-comes-from-just-10-rivers/a-41581484

Almost all plastic in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers

Most of the plastic in our oceans doesn't get dumped there directly, rivers carry it to the sea. As it turns out, a very small number of them do most of the damage.

At last count, there were at least 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world. Much of it gets discarded and eventually ends up in our oceans. Researchers are looking for ways to collect that trash in the sea using a variety of technologies but the overall consensus is that using less plastic, or at least catching the trash at the source, would be much better than filtering it out afterwards. 

Read: There are 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world

But where to start? Well, in fact, that might be an easier decision to make than one would think. It turns out that about 90 percent of all the plastic that reaches the world's oceans gets flushed through just 10 rivers: The Yangtze, the Indus, Yellow River, Hai River, the Nile, the Ganges, Pearl River, Amur River, the Niger, and the Mekong (in that order).

These rivers have a few key things in common. All of them run through areas where a lot of people live — hundreds of millions of people in some cases. But what's more important is that these areas don't have adequate waste collection or recycling infrastructure. There is also little public awareness that plastic trash is a problem at all, so a lot of garbage, gets thrown into the river and conveniently disappears downstream. 

So the problem is huge but the good news is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel — or for some breakthrough technology. Simply collecting and recycling trash as is already being done in other parts of the world (with varying degrees of success) could largely solve the problem.

"Halving the plastic input from the catchment areas of these rivers would already be a major success," said Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. Schmidt was lead author on a recent study that identified the 10 rivers as the main polluters.

Well, let's get started then!

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Comments

  • Axe_meisterAxe_meister Frets: 2153
    That's the easy stuff. Far more of a problem is the plastic we have buried in landfill sites. It degrades into micro plastic beads then gets into the ground water and then into the oceans.
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  • exocetexocet Frets: 536
    edited April 26
    That's the easy stuff. Far more of a problem is the plastic we have buried in landfill sites. It degrades into micro plastic beads then gets into the ground water and then into the oceans.
    Does that happen large scale? I'm no expert but I thought that the "micro beads" thing was more to do with modern cosmetic products entering the system more directly?
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 4207
    Maybe not the answer, but look how much litter is by the side of the road, verges and on the motorway/dual carriage way verges - disgusting etc - So much now you can clearly see it - If it was one isolated plastic bottle it would not be seen
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  • Axe_meisterAxe_meister Frets: 2153
    exocet said:
    That's the easy stuff. Far more of a problem is the plastic we have buried in landfill sites. It degrades into micro plastic beads then gets into the ground water and then into the oceans.
    Does that happen large scale? I'm no expert but I thought that the "micro beads" thing was more to do with modern cosmetic products entering the system more directly?
    There are two sides to this. Manufactured micro beads, and broken down plastic. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    I was wondering... if just those ten rivers are the source of so much of the plastic entering the sea, whether a low-tech solution might work - simply large nets across the rivers before they reach the sea to catch a lot of it. OK this would still be a huge undertaking since these rivers are truly vast - miles across, at the sea - but they wouldn't have to be very deep since the plastic floats, and they wouldn't even have to catch it all to make a significant difference, so it would be possible to leave gaps for shipping.

    Waste plastic is also worth something for recycling, even if not much, so there's a possible offset to the cost of rigging and clearing the nets as well.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Jock68Jock68 Frets: 149
    Largest proportion of plastic in the sea is Fishing Nets over 50%.  This is not an issue here in the UK, I have never seen anyone walk down to the beach and throw their bottles in the sea.  If it was then there would be money in privitising Beach patrols with authority to fine people who do not remove their rubbish from the beech.

    Or does the recycling we all pay for not get recycled?


    Jock
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5349
    @Rabs - The problem is that Environmentalism at the high end, i.e. where the money comes from is staggeringly political.  Basically, the large Environmental agencies and groups want the West, Europe and the US to pay to put things right even though, as you say, it is not the West that is causing the problem. The reason of course is to maintain the West feeling guilty so they will provide the money. Trying to get money from Asia and Africa is a waste of time for Environmental agencies and groups who all rely on handouts for their jobs.  Plus of course, the Asia and Africa countries simply will not take action unless the West pays for it. They have learned that saying "No, we would if we could but we can't" sends the Environmental agencies and groups scuttling back to the West to ask for more money.  So the situation is self-sustaining.

    Local communities especially in Asia have also learned very quickly how to get what they want when dealing with Environmentalists who arrive on their doorstep.  They've learned that if they are being asked to do something (reduce waste, conserve land for wildlife, etc) then they can negotiate money, jobs, etc, in return.  Painting them as naive is simply lazy stereotyping by the West.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8802
    Jock68 said:


    Or does the recycling we all pay for not get recycled?


    I suspect a fair bit of it doesn't. I was told by people who have no reason to lie, that the Bottle Banks from Stonham Aspal are driven straight to a landfill site a few miles up the A140 and the glass goes nowhere near a recycling plant. Source: the bloke who drives the lorry, via the landlord at the pub.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • exocetexocet Frets: 536
    My local council issues clear plastic sacks for recycling purposes. Everything gets lumped together in the same bag.....I can see how they might possibly pick out aluminium / steel from that but everything else I suspect is shipped over to China. 
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5349
    Jock68 said:


    Or does the recycling we all pay for not get recycled?


    I suspect a fair bit of it doesn't. I was told by people who have no reason to lie, that the Bottle Banks from Stonham Aspal are driven straight to a landfill site a few miles up the A140 and the glass goes nowhere near a recycling plant. Source: the bloke who drives the lorry, via the landlord at the pub.
    Nobody wants glass for recycling. Environmental types think you just melt it and remould it. Which goes to show how little people know about the chemistry and engineering of glass.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    Chalky said:

    Nobody wants glass for recycling. Environmental types think you just melt it and remould it. Which goes to show how little people know about the chemistry and engineering of glass.
    And also how much energy is required...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6185
    I recycle all our glass as a food additive for people I don't like.

    as you can imagine, I need lots every week.

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5349
    edited May 6
    ICBM said:
    Chalky said:

    Nobody wants glass for recycling. Environmental types think you just melt it and remould it. Which goes to show how little people know about the chemistry and engineering of glass.
    And also how much energy is required...
    True - is it still true that only aluminium is energy-positive when recycled, i.e. all other stuff takes more energy to recycle than to make from new?

    I got talking to one of the chaps at our reclamation place a couple of years ago and he was explaining it to me, how no-one in business wants to take material for recycling because its just too much aggro and costs more.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8802
    Chalky said:
    ICBM said:
    Chalky said:

    Nobody wants glass for recycling. Environmental types think you just melt it and remould it. Which goes to show how little people know about the chemistry and engineering of glass.
    And also how much energy is required...
    True - is it still true that only aluminium is energy-positive when recycled, i.e. all other stuff takes more energy to recycle than to make from new?

    I got talking to one of the chaps at our reclamation place a couple of years ago and he was explaining it to me, how no-one in business wants to take material for recycling because its just too much aggro and costs more.
    good point about the energy, but IMO we need to be aware the earth is finite and so is its stock of raw materials. If we don't recycle, we may well run out. I suspect before that time comes that getting the last few tonnes out will be more expensive than recycling, so we might as well learn now to recycle now.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5349
    Chalky said:
    ICBM said:
    Chalky said:

    Nobody wants glass for recycling. Environmental types think you just melt it and remould it. Which goes to show how little people know about the chemistry and engineering of glass.
    And also how much energy is required...
    True - is it still true that only aluminium is energy-positive when recycled, i.e. all other stuff takes more energy to recycle than to make from new?

    I got talking to one of the chaps at our reclamation place a couple of years ago and he was explaining it to me, how no-one in business wants to take material for recycling because its just too much aggro and costs more.
    good point about the energy, but IMO we need to be aware the earth is finite and so is its stock of raw materials. If we don't recycle, we may well run out. I suspect before that time comes that getting the last few tonnes out will be more expensive than recycling, so we might as well learn now to recycle now.
    But which takes priority - save raw materials or save energy consumption?
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  • VimFuegoVimFuego Frets: 6185
    well, I would say resources, we have, in theory and I'm sure more knowledgeable folks than me will confirm or deny this, the possibility of almost endless energy in the future from things like advanced solar collection and nuclear fusion. We can't make any more resources. 

    I'm not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31628
    VimFuego said:
    well, I would say resources, we have, in theory and I'm sure more knowledgeable folks than me will confirm or deny this, the possibility of almost endless energy in the future from things like advanced solar collection and nuclear fusion. We can't make any more resources. 
    True - although they've been saying nuclear fusion will produce limitless cheap energy 'in about another fifteen years' since before I was born... and I'm fifty. My guess is that it will still be 'in about another fifteen years' for ever. I did study the fusion process as part of my Astrophysics course at Uni, and even with that fairly limited undergraduate understanding of what's involved, I simply do not think it can be made to work.

    The irony is that there is a perfectly good fusion power station operating right now not far away, as it has been for the last five billion years and will do for another five billion, without any need for human interference... so why waste time and money trying to reproduce the process on a microscopic scale here on Earth? Advanced solar collection is definitely the way forward.

    I also think pollution and destruction of the natural organisms and processes which help keep the world's ecosystems stable is going to be a limiting factor if we aren't very careful.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • AliGorieAliGorie Frets: 288
    vinyl  figure in all this ?
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5349
    Four decades ago when I worked for an Electricity company the training included demand management. I was taught that the worst time was the cold November evening as the sun set.  The temperature drop and some folks starting to get home caused a strong spike in demand.

    Four decades later, just add that its a still, windless November evening and you're reflecting today's renewables problems.  When the wind is low and the sun has gone, our traditional gas and nuclear power stations have to deliver 100% of demand.  So now you need infrastructure that delivers closer to 200% of demand, i.e. renewables add the other nearly %100.

    The reality is that without an efficient way to store generated electricity, the move to renewables is not as easy as the novice might think.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 9214
    Chalky said:
    Four decades ago when I worked for an Electricity company the training included demand management. I was taught that the worst time was the cold November evening as the sun set.  The temperature drop and some folks starting to get home caused a strong spike in demand.

    Four decades later, just add that its a still, windless November evening and you're reflecting today's renewables problems.  When the wind is low and the sun has gone, our traditional gas and nuclear power stations have to deliver 100% of demand.  So now you need infrastructure that delivers closer to 200% of demand, i.e. renewables add the other nearly %100.

    The reality is that without an efficient way to store generated electricity, the move to renewables is not as easy as the novice might think.
    You don't have to store the energy generated in electrical form - water/gravity storage (ie using renewable energy to pump water to a high place, then hydro tech to retrieve that energy on demand) is relatively efficient and extremely flexible but it needs space and money, and neither of which are things people in the west ever want to give up. 

    The likes of Tesla are also pushing hard on battery tech, which is improving at a rapid pace. I'm quiet convinced the home-generation-and-storage model is a good one, and will change the whole industry once it reaches the tipping point on cost effectiveness
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5349
    Chalky said:
    Four decades ago when I worked for an Electricity company the training included demand management. I was taught that the worst time was the cold November evening as the sun set.  The temperature drop and some folks starting to get home caused a strong spike in demand.

    Four decades later, just add that its a still, windless November evening and you're reflecting today's renewables problems.  When the wind is low and the sun has gone, our traditional gas and nuclear power stations have to deliver 100% of demand.  So now you need infrastructure that delivers closer to 200% of demand, i.e. renewables add the other nearly %100.

    The reality is that without an efficient way to store generated electricity, the move to renewables is not as easy as the novice might think.
    You don't have to store the energy generated in electrical form - water/gravity storage (ie using renewable energy to pump water to a high place, then hydro tech to retrieve that energy on demand) is relatively efficient and extremely flexible but it needs space and money, and neither of which are things people in the west ever want to give up. 

    The likes of Tesla are also pushing hard on battery tech, which is improving at a rapid pace. I'm quiet convinced the home-generation-and-storage model is a good one, and will change the whole industry once it reaches the tipping point on cost effectiveness
    Yes, the old store it as potential energy of water in hilltop reservoirs ceased to be a runner many years ago as it is far too expensive.  Elon Musk's South Australia battery is interesting, but like you I think the local or domestic battery is a longer term solution, but its still a huge amount of infrastructure to be rolled out.
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