“The Missing 99%: Why Can’t We Find The Vast Majority Of Ocean Plastic?”

“What scientists can see and measure, in the garbage patches and on beaches, accounts for only a tiny fraction of the total plastic entering the water

Every year, 8m tons of plastic enters the ocean. Images of common household waste swirling in vast garbage patches in the open sea, or tangled up with whales and seabirds, have turned plastic pollution into one of the most popular environmental issues in the world.

But for at least a decade, the biggest question among scientists who study marine plastic hasn’t been why plastic in the ocean is so abundant, but why it isn’t. What scientists can see and measure, in the garbage patches and on beaches, accounts for only a tiny fraction of the total plastic entering the water.

So where is the other 99% of ocean plastic? Unsettling answers have recently begun to emerge.”

Stephen Buranyi reports for the Guardian December 31, 2019.