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Garbage Island in the Pacific Ocean

Garbage Island in the Pacific Ocean

There are tons of plastic bags, bottles, and other waste floating in the North Pacific. The large scrapheap of the Pacific Ocean covers an area of hundreds of kilometers in the northern part of the ocean where are a floating area of garbage. The plastic that humans use ends up in the oceans. The problem of this marine garbage has only recently received public attention after it has been widely covered in the media.

The great scrapheap of the Pacific Ocean was formed when the currents collect floating waste and spin everything into the northern subtropical vortex of the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the few major ocean eddies in the world. Finally, the rubbish flows into the confluence zones connecting the eastern and western rubbish layers, which together form the so-called Garbage Island.


This scrapheap is sometimes called the Garbage Island, but that is not the correct name. Everything is much more complicated. If it were a collection of rubbish in one place, it could simply be eliminated. It is more of a garbage galaxy with billions of tiny garbage islets that can be either underwater or stretched for many kilometers. It is therefore very difficult to decide how to clean them up, as the actual size of that scrapheap in the ocean has not yet been studied, and it is speculated that it may be as large as France. Thus, the predictions about the size of the ocean scrapheap are highly contradictory, as it is not one large mass. It is made up of many separate waste piles.

Although that ocean scrapheap has been very little studied, a major part of it is made of plastic. This is the biggest problem. Unlike other rubbish, plastic is not biodegradable. Microbes that break down organic materials do not recognize plastic as food, as a result, it is left untouched. Sunlight eventually breaks down the plastic polymer interfaces, reducing the plastic to smaller and smaller pieces, but that only makes the problem worse as plastic does not break down, it just becomes microscopic particles that can be eaten by tiny marine organisms at the bottom of the food chain.

What Can We Do?

Charles Moore, the captain who was the first to notice the Garbage Island, once said that if we tried to clean it up, we would go bankrupt. And the captain was right. In fact, it is very difficult to try to clean this mess. In any case, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts exploratory flights over this landfill and sends ships to analyze waste and water samples. After a scientific expedition to this ocean dump in 2009, scientists were shocked. They saw large and small pieces of rubbish and a huge underwater mist from light-scattered plastic flakes, and now they are examining the samples brought back to find out how the plastic affects the marine environment.

What Can We Do?
What Can We Do??

Meanwhile, another team of scientists is trying to find a way to recycle or turn the wasted plastic into fuel. They intend to find out the connection between plastic waste on the mainland and plastic waste at sea. If the study is going to be successful, a lot of questions would be answered. In general, plastic recycling and the use of biodegradable materials would be the best solution for pollution control.