February 6, 2022

Plastic as a Persistent Marine Pollutant

Research from CIRT Co-Founder Dr. Jenna Jambeck has determined that the annual tonnage of plastic production approaches the total weight of the human population. Nearly 40% of this plastic waste enters the ocean as macroscopic litter and microplastic particles. The mismanagement of plastics has led to the current crisis of accumulating plastic pollution and cannot be easily remedied. Incentives amongst governments, producers, scientists, and citizens are suggested to help mitigate the growing plastic pollution issue. To read the full article, click here.

Figure 1: Time trends in total plastics production worldwide. (a) Global production in million metric tons per year (Mt year−1). (b) Usage patterns of plastic in 2016 are estimated from available sources (18). Three phases are seen: Phase 1 signifies slow development and invention of most plastics commonly used today (innovation phase), Phase 2 is marked by rapid global expansion and exponential growth (growth phase), and Phase 3 shows more linear dynamics that more closely mirrors global economic growth (consolidation phase). Data compiled from References 18, 19, and 20.