Ocean floor contains nearly 15.5 million tons of microplastics

Found everywhere from Antarctica to the Pyrenees, a significant amount of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, but very little has been known about how much ends up on the ocean floor — until now.

CNN reported that a new study has found that the ocean floor contains nearly 15.5 million tons of microplastics.

Researchers from Australia’s government science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), examined microplastics on the ocean floor near the Great Australian Bight, a large expanse that comprises the bulk of the country’s southwest coastline.

The researchers used a robotic submarine to gather and analyze samples taken from six locations up to 236 miles off the coast, and up to almost 10,000 feet deep.

The results, which were published in Frontiers in Marine Science, revealed about 35 times more plastic at the bottom of the ocean than floating at the surface. In 51 samples taken between March and April 2017, researchers found an average of 1.26 microplastic pieces per gram of sediment, a concentration that’s up to 25 times greater than any previous deep-sea study.

Plastic pollution that ends up in the ocean deteriorates and breaks down, ending up as microplastics, the results show microplastics are indeed sinking to the ocean floor.”

Finding microplastics in such remote locations and depths reveals the extent of global plastic pollution.

The World Economic Forum has estimated that an entire garbage truck full of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute, every day, The New Daily reported.