Microplastics in oceans – how much? From where?
UBA: Focus more attention on large-size plastic litter
The microplastics used in peels or shower gels contribute a comparatively little though unnecessary amount in terms of quantity to environmental pollution. These are the findings of a study done for the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), according to which some 500 tonnes of such primarily polyethylene microparticles, the most widely used plastic worldwide, are thought to be used in cosmetic products in Germany per year. The most significant source of microplastics in oceans in terms of quantity, however, is the disintegration of larger pieces of plastic. When large-size plastic litter – plastic bags, fishing nets, for example – enters oceans through rivers, wind, weather and the tides break the larger pieces down into what is known as secondary microplastics. Some six to ten percent of the plastics production worldwide lands in the world's oceans, says the study. Roughly 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year worldwide (Data: 2013). It must be assumed that up to 30 million tonnes of plastic are ending up in oceans worldwide every year. Between 3.4 and 5.7 million tonnes per year occur in Europe alone.