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The Washington Post: Humans are putting 8 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans — annually

This Washington Post article proves why it is so important we all take care of the environment and keep plastics from harming the Earth.

Late last  year we learned that, thanks to human beings, the oceans are carrying at least 5 trillion pieces of floating plastic — or nearly 700 pieces per human alive on the planet. In weight, that’s some 250,000 tons of the stuff.

But new research suggests that even that haul is probably a serious underestimate. In a paper published this week in the journal Science, Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia and a group of colleagues tried to estimate the total amount of plastic going into the oceans annually from 192 coastal countries, whose total population is 6.4 billion. People in these countries within 50 kilometers of the coast, the study estimates, produced 99.5 million metric tons of plastic waste in 2010 — and 31.9 of those million tons, the study estimates, were in some way mismanaged.

Thus, the authors calculate, each year about 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic are entering the oceans — for a midpoint figure of around 8 million metric tons. This is vastly higher than the number cited above — and moreover, it’s an annual number.

“It’s much larger than what they’re finding in the water,” says Jambeck. “But of course, as you know, they only can count what they find, and they only can find where they look.”

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