A new study has estimated that the amount of microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean could be as much as 21 million tonnes.
The BBC shared the findings of research carried out by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, which scooped up layers of the upper 200m of the ocean during a research expedition through the middle of the Atlantic.
Based on the tiny plastic fragments found floating in the water collected, the researchers estimate there are between 12 million and 21 million tonnes of microplastics in this ocean alone.
Dr Katsia Pabortsava, who led the study for the National Oceanography Centre, explained that this is much higher than previous estimates because “previously we haven’t been able to balance the amount of plastic we found in the ocean with the amount we thought we had put in”.
She added that this is because “we weren’t measuring the very smallest particles”.
Professor Jamie Woodward, an expert in plastic pollution at the University of Manchester, told the news provider that the next step is to understand “the ecological impacts of this contamination in all parts of the ocean”.
According to IUCN, at least eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year, with plastic also making up 80 per cent of all marine debris.
If you want to do your part to help reduce these figures, you can start by making simple swaps in your everyday life. That could involve investing in reusable steel straws to ensure that you’re not using disposable plastic ones any longer.