STUDY: 95% of plastic in the sea comes from 10 rivers
Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 4:35 PM - A recent study paints a sobering picture about the state of our oceans.
According to the paper, published last month in Environmental Science and Technology, rivers deposit up to 4 million metric tonnes of plastic into the sea -- and about 95 per cent of that comes from just 10 waterways.
Previous studies suggested about 67 per cent of plastic in the oceans came from 20 rivers. For this study, researchers out of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Science used a larger data set to reach their findings, sampling from 79 sites along 57 rivers around the world.
Eight of the 10 rivers are in Asia.
The study's authors are pushing for a targeted clean-up of the offending rivers, arguing it would have a substantial global impact.
"Reducing plastic loads by 50 percent in the 10 top-ranked rivers would reduce the total river-based load to the sea by 45 percent," the researchers write.
Top ten most polluted lakes
- Yangtze River, Yellow Sea, Asia
- Indus River, Arabian Sea, Asia
- Yellow River (Huang He), Yellow Sea, Asia
- Hai River, Yellow Sea, Asia
- Nile, Mediterranean Sea, Africa
- Meghna/Bramaputra/Ganges, Bay of Bengal, Asia
- Pearl River (Zhujiang), South China Sea, Asia
- Amur River (Heilong Jiang), Sea of Okhotsk, Asia
- Niger River, Gulf of Guinea, Africa
- Mekong River, South China Sea, Asia
Plastic is an integral component of modern society, but this "miracle material" has a downside.
It's estimated that 1 billion tonnes of plastic have been discarded since the 1950s and research suggests it will take up to 500 years for some forms to biodegrade.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 in the U.S. actually made it to recycling plants. The other 92% was shuffled off to landfills or found its way into the water.
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