Fact Sheet

Katy Rivera

These are the obstacles to clean the great Pacific garbage patch -  LatinAmerican Post

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of the most talked about issues in pollution for many years. The patch is collection of debris in the Pacific Ocean that has been growing over decades. Most of the debris and waste are plastic material/objects. It is considered an island of trash because it enlarges every year, and no one is sure how to combat it. It was first discovered by Charles Moore in 1997. He returned a year later to see if there were any major changes and he concluded that it had grown in size. “About 54 percent of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia. The remaining 20 percent of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or lose debris directly into the water” (National Geographic, n.d.). As of right now no nation has taken responsibility due to the fact that there is no evidence that a specific country is causing it to grow. In fact, there are many reasons as to why this patch is a whole and growing in size. 

It is made up of 3.6 trillion of pieces and molecules from plastic that are coming from both continents.  “92% of the total mass is made of debris larger than 5mm” (The Ocean Clean up, n.d.). There are four types of plastic that has been collected; Type H, N, P, and F. Type H includes hard plastic and film, type N is plastic lines and fishing nets, Type p is pre-production plastics that never make it to be a full product and Type F which is fragments of foamed materials. It is constantly changing as more objects enter it and with the motion of the currents and winds it is always moving around, and the coordinates differ every year. “The North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone links the east and western garbage patches, acting as a highway for waste to move from one to the other” (Condor Ferries, 2020). The smallest debris can be dropped in Pacific Ocean and land in this patch because the vortexes swirls will suck it and lead it to get stuck in the patch. 

The patch has affected the marine life where it locates because it covers the species and plants that need sunlight and kills the species who either ingest or get entangled in any of the trash. “They end up blocking essential sunlight from reaching below. Further, it denies algae and planktons of essential sunlight, making them unable to use carbon, oxygen, and sunlight to produce their own food” (Andreajn, 2020). Algae is a food source for small creatures and when the algae are affected many species are forced to look for other food or die from starvation. Of the samples taken from thousands of plastic debris, 84% of them contained toxic chemicals that lingered in the material. “Since 84% of this plastic was found to have at least one Persistent Bio-accumulative Toxic Persistent Bio-accumulative Toxic (PBT) chemical, animals consuming this debris are therefore ingesting the chemicals attached to the plastic” (The Ocean Clean Up, n.d.). The Pacific Ocean can potentially have massive affects if this patch continues to grow. There has not been an effective solution to clean it up, it can take decades to fully get that patch cleared up with an effective way. 


50 Great Pacific Garbage Patch Facts That’ll Make You Say No To Plastic. (2020, May 8). Facts.Net. https://facts.net/science/geography/great-pacific-garbage-patch-facts

100+ Ocean Pollution Statistics & Facts (2020). (n.d.). Condor Ferries. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.condorferries.co.uk/marine-ocean-pollution-statistics-facts

Society, N. G. (2019, July 5). Great Pacific Garbage Patch. National Geographic Society. http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (n.d.). The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://theoceancleanup.com/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

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