Why 99% of ocean plastic pollution is "missing"

The plastic we dump into the ocean might be hiding in plain sight.

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For the past several years scientists have been trying to account for the 8 million metric tonnes of plastic that we dump into the ocean each year. The assumption was that a large portion of it was floating out in one of the large garbage patches, where swirling debris accumulates thanks to ocean gyres. But recent measurements of the amount of trash in the patches fell far short of what’s thought to be out there.

Scientists are getting closer to an answer, which could help clean-up efforts and prevent further damage to marine life and ocean ecosystems.

In a previous version of this video, we mistakenly compared the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the area of Australia. It is in fact roughly 1.6 million square kilometers, a little more than twice the size of the state of Texas. A huge area, but not nearly as big as Australia. Source: www.nature.com/articles/s4159...

For anyone interested in participating in the Ocean Conservancy's annual beach clean-up events, here is the link with information:

For more reading, check out this New Yorker article on the missing plastic problem, which inspired this video:

Laurent Lebreton’s research that estimates the amount of debris in the garbage patches is here:

For more about Ocean Conservancy’s work, and their annual international beach cleanup events:

For more reading about Erik Van Sebille’s work:

For more reading about Melanie Bergmann’s work:

Watch our full video catalog: goo.gl/IZONyE
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Or Twitter: goo.gl/XFrZ5H

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    X XX X20 timmar sedan
  • I hate humans, and yes that includes myself for contributing to this

    just another accountjust another accountDag sedan
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    Shyla GirouxShyla Giroux2 dagar sedan
  • Japan has one of the best recycling programs, why can't we learn from them and even make it better? I recycle at home but everything isn't recyclable...

    BestBecky78BestBecky782 dagar sedan
  • One possible solution is for governments to first require a date stamp to be applied to all plastic products made, just like the plastic label (e.g. PET, PTFE). Then start taxing plastics made after a certain date e.g. 2025 and use the tax money to subsidize the use of recycled plastics so that recycled plastics are much cheaper than newly made plastics. The tax rate could be increased incrementally (3% -> 5% -> 7% -> 10%) over years.

    Pankour LautPankour Laut2 dagar sedan
  • Plastic is bad. Everyone knows it. Left and right. Just quit using plastic. Who wants to be plastic anyway. Plastic man. Plastic boyfriend. Plastic girlfriend. You might be on yourself.

    AnonymikeAnonymike2 dagar sedan
  • You're worried about plastic. I'm wondering what's happened to all the beaks and claws and finger and toe nails and hair and chitinous shells that have accumulated since the beginning of time. We ought to be 50 feet (15 meters to you Canucks) deep in the stuff by now. Or, are they lying to us as usual and not telling us, the world is only 5000 years old.

    AnonymikeAnonymike2 dagar sedan
  • The rich are to blame for this. This is why we have a big plastic island in the ocean.

    Phil GhiPhil Ghi3 dagar sedan
  • I ❤️ $POC (pangeaoceancleanup), it’s a community token with a really good cause for our 🌍 & the 🌊! The community is awesome, the team is very transparent! They fund barriers to stop trash entering the ocean in the most polluting rivers.💰 Project was listed at Probit and featured in Yahoo Finance & Business Insider! 🤑

    MarautuMarautu3 dagar sedan
  • The answer to this problem has always been right in front of you all. Force the companies that produce these products to also be responsible for cleaning it up. They are getting rich by destroying our planet. Wake up humanity!

  • hey buddy, you cant blame all that plastic on people for doing that when you miss the point into tsunami that happened all over the world, didnt you see all the plastic that went out to sea, this is why you got this mate, people are thick and uneducated

    peter kahuiipeter kahuii5 dagar sedan
  • In the long term then, all this will sink with the sediments and become a fossil fuel again.

    subodh sarinsubodh sarin6 dagar sedan
  • This has actually a slightly positive upturn: most of our plastics are near the coast, show up in the shores etc. There's actually a not so difficult solution to that!

    Alejo AresAlejo Ares6 dagar sedan
  • Will do!

    Max HeadromMax Headrom6 dagar sedan
  • Terrible.

    James ThorntonJames Thornton7 dagar sedan
  • I just watched “Seaspiracy” last night, the biggest problem is plastic fishing nets. The world governments need to protect areas of the ocean from fishing and ban leaving nets in the oceans.

    TheNerdyVixenTheNerdyVixen8 dagar sedan
    • The "government" won't do a thing, the (free) individuals must stop buying fish from companies still using nets - the government is a scam.

      Dhin CardosoDhin Cardoso4 dagar sedan
  • We need to build a technological area and then expand out keeping wildlife safe within an area that keeps poachers out, keep people in that help with the environment and keep people out that damage the environment unless they are willing to change and obey the rules, if we are already talking about creating something on Mars so why not here, we have everything here already, just need to be organized

    Tyrone MathewTyrone Mathew8 dagar sedan
  • If we all did just put a tiny effort to throw trash where it belongs we can make a difference

    Mindy AllabaughMindy Allabaugh9 dagar sedan
  • can we create a floating attribute for the micro plastics? I think the attribute can help the sinking problem for plastics in ocean.

    KridK.KridK.9 dagar sedan
  • So, are we going to just going to study this forever or are we going to clean it up?

    memphis patmemphis pat10 dagar sedan
  • Sand, seafloor, and in the wildlife, if not just scattered throughout the sea as microplatic.

    Scorpion's DogScorpion's Dog10 dagar sedan

  • I looked it up, in all of western Europe that is literally not a problem, it's mostly south East Asia and then the other half or so comes from other 2nd and 3rd world countries. These countries don't have proper trash collection and use their rivers as sewers. If you want to see this for yourself look up "plastic rivers"

    jenidujenidu11 dagar sedan
  • Here in Peru they throw there trash in the rivers and it gets flushed out to sea during heavy rains.

    Macgyver CMacgyver C12 dagar sedan
  • Doomsday is nearby.

    Suddhojit GonSuddhojit Gon12 dagar sedan
  • 13x

    mutia irmamutia irma12 dagar sedan
  • everything starts at the beginning , plastic is big money , worry about the problems later .

    John HuismanJohn Huisman12 dagar sedan
  • YOU ENVIRONMENTALISTS got us off of paper bags.

    JeremyJeremy13 dagar sedan
  • Cool, so nothing to worry about. The ocean grinds up and burys the plastic over time. No problem.

    Davro TuDavro Tu13 dagar sedan
  • Caused by 3 rivers in Russia, China and India.

    Thomas JonesThomas Jones13 dagar sedan
  • Bacteria and other microorganisms are eating the plastic, and are evolving and cross-breeding as they do. No one knows what they are going to evolve into but it might very well not be beneficial to larger animals -- like human beings.

    Starry GordonStarry Gordon13 dagar sedan
  • In a way Covid really gave humanity some gap time to clean up this mess

    ASI බ්‍රෝASI බ්‍රෝ13 dagar sedan
  • The hoc cast prenatally collect because pilot concordingly brake forenenst a hushed dolphin. crowded, proud indonesia

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    • What?

      Slim WagZSlim WagZ13 dagar sedan
  • I don’t think recycling is the solution, it is totally overrated... The solution is really to replace plastics with biodegradable materials, change our culture of disposable objects, and better global sanitation so we can manage all that trash, especially in underdeveloped countries...

    sphaerasphaera14 dagar sedan
  • So in the ocean floor, a couple of million years and it will turn back into oil.

    BSonYOUTUBEBSonYOUTUBE14 dagar sedan
  • Covert got it

    David LeCornuDavid LeCornu14 dagar sedan
  • 0:04 Texas is now the new official measuring standard

    Junaid AlamJunaid Alam14 dagar sedan
  • I never seen plastic pollution on the beach where I live in UK

    HARMONIEHARMONIE14 dagar sedan
  • so their using the same model as the climate people lol lol lol fairy tale at best

    old man volloxold man vollox14 dagar sedan
  • It’s great that it sits there. At least it keeps all the carbon from releasing into atmosphere.

    Alexander PetrenkoAlexander Petrenko15 dagar sedan
  • My dad says when he was a kid the city dump was the ocean . You drove to the Bay and everyone through their garbage in. It's now called cst.

    M DM D15 dagar sedan
  • In the Netherlands we have tractors with large filters that can also reach buried garbage. We also have bins at almost every (popular) beach. Still stuf washes into the sea. Its just frustrating.

    Jr TrJr Tr15 dagar sedan

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    Adriana PalomaresAdriana Palomares16 dagar sedan
  • my laundry basket !!

    Solomon RéalSolomon Réal16 dagar sedan
  • We pick up the plastic... Put it in plastic.... Then cover it up under the earth anyways or recycle to make more plastic. Sad

    Clint OdenbachClint Odenbach16 dagar sedan
  • plastic, the new sand ?

    G. S.G. S.16 dagar sedan
  • I can't believe this has become a political issue. This should have been solved decades ago.

    Nawid N.Nawid N.16 dagar sedan
  • J

    psychiatry is eugenicspsychiatry is eugenics16 dagar sedan
  • And we are not only dumping plastic into the ocean :(

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    Amu YangAmu Yang17 dagar sedan
  • not plankton :(

    Chaos PromotionsChaos Promotions17 dagar sedan
  • If plastic melts, why not make large plastic bricks for building all kinds of things or containers etc ... recycling is a bit nebulous... I mean what does THAT mesn when the stockpile of plastic refuse is so great. Is there an unwillingness here? Is it a matter of economics?... It seems rediculous that plastic recycling is simply too hard. Is there videos you know of that explains these questions?

    diarbe womylong (Diarbe)diarbe womylong (Diarbe)17 dagar sedan
  • I hate plastic, not for it polluting the ocean but because it's overused in annoying hard to open packaging. Few of us live near the ocean to care about plastic in the ocean, but many of us hate plastic when it comes to opening packages. You need to attack plastics by attacking the corporations pushing unnecessary plastic packaging. That would get you backing from the public you really need.

    NoogmanNoogman18 dagar sedan
  • @Vox you should interview the company Newlight out of Huntington Beach. They make a plankton and captured co2 ("AirCarbon") food ware. Compostable, and biodegradable.

    eblmaneblman18 dagar sedan
  • 90% of plastic ocean waste comes from Asia. American tree hugging regulations do nothing.

    John DolschenkoJohn Dolschenko18 dagar sedan
    • I just goofed a little bit China and India

      John DolschenkoJohn Dolschenko11 dagar sedan
  • All of the debris listed was consumer goods. The very large majority of it is industrial fishing nets but no mention of them...

    Kenneth HumphriesKenneth Humphries18 dagar sedan
  • Life is thriving in Chernobyl. The one constant of life on earth is that it adapts. You fear mongerers.

    NeuroNeuro18 dagar sedan
  • Maybe these UFO’s are trying to save our planet. UFOs are being seen in these deep areas.

    William MarshWilliam Marsh18 dagar sedan
  • Clean 'em up!

    NeuroNeuro18 dagar sedan
  • Humans are the Earth's cancer

    William MullensWilliam Mullens18 dagar sedan
  • Why don't they get all those low danger convicts sitting around on their backsides, to work off their sentence by cleaning the beaches? Seems like everybody wins that way.

    mike requadtmike requadt18 dagar sedan
    • Involuntary work and no pay? Sounds like slavery to me.

      Nawid N.Nawid N.16 dagar sedan
  • I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics.

    thegreenbirdthegreenbird18 dagar sedan
  • Liberals: global warming is making sea levels rise Country sized garbage island:hold my bottle.

    FrostyEmberFrostyEmber19 dagar sedan
  • This is easily the best that vox has ever done Frankly I'm surprised

    arson338arson33819 dagar sedan
  • Where does the plastic come from?

    Mike CarrMike Carr19 dagar sedan
    • Plastic is made out of Oil which is dinosaur fossils that are buried under ground over millions of years

      VividRougeVividRouge18 dagar sedan
    • Imagine how much washed into the ocean in the 2011 tsunami, or just heavy rain washing it from streets into ocean

      FrostyEmberFrostyEmber19 dagar sedan
    • Humans littering. Ships, fishermen, people that live on the coast dropping there garbage by the ocean and it gets swept away or blown in.

      FrostyEmberFrostyEmber19 dagar sedan
  • Where EXACTLY does the plastic come from and how does it transit in the oceans? This should be the subject of a serious study, no? I manage every gram of plastics I use. All the persons I know do the same. Who is responsible?

    rodibremorodibremo19 dagar sedan
    • @Felicis You are right, it seems. Do you have the references of the studies on this subject?

      rodibremorodibremo16 dagar sedan
    • @FrostyEmber Yes, we have 400'000 km of coastlines, plus water ways, plus fishing, transport, ocean tourism industries, etc. I would like to know the impact of each countries and activities and what are the best solutions.

      rodibremorodibremo18 dagar sedan
    • Fishermen,workers, the millions of people that live on coastlines and leave there garbage at the beach and it gets washed in. Over years and years it builds up, I’ve seen people just leave water bottles on the dock and it just gets blown into the water. I was recently at a beach by my house and a food truck was selling food, and a gust of wind came and about 30 plastic bags went flying into the ocean, so annoying.

      FrostyEmberFrostyEmber19 dagar sedan
  • Huh? I don't understand. So I pick up plastic from the beach. Where do I put it...in the recycle bin?

    Brother AndyBrother Andy19 dagar sedan
  • Restrictions on plastic straws and bags, yet you can buy a case of 36 plastic water bottles in a second.

    The Boi FrankieThe Boi Frankie19 dagar sedan
  • Take a look at China's rivers , in cities they are garbage dumps , also poor countries in general

    lazaruslazarus20 dagar sedan
  • making the corporations responsible, not us, is what will fix this. My parents used fabric market bags, until the 70s. Why do I have to bring home 2-5 pieces of plastic for every item I get from a store? I don't want it, it's useless, but I'm obligated unless I grow my own food. Even then, the soil comes in.. plastic bags

    Stephanie AStephanie A20 dagar sedan
  • The ads that pop up assume I am a democrat because I care about saving the ocean. Republicans are not monsters. How about we get tough with the countries who do most of the harm as well as clean up our own back yards?

    Carol Phelan-SmithCarol Phelan-Smith20 dagar sedan
  • They are most of them from Japan Fukushima. Javanese government have remove these garbage. BUT THEY DONT

    Jung min KimJung min Kim21 dag sedan
  • No, no, no. Production date does not imply when added to the ocean! The 1971 basket could have been added a few years ago.

    CompressWealthDivide EconomicProsperityCompressWealthDivide EconomicProsperity21 dag sedan

    maceliusmacelius21 dag sedan
    • @Jim Lincoln Did you not pay attention in math class?

      maceliusmacelius20 dagar sedan
    • which equals nothing

      Jim LincolnJim Lincoln20 dagar sedan
  • did they find any blow up dolls?😮

    billie suebillie sue21 dag sedan
    • Definitely

      VividRougeVividRouge18 dagar sedan
  • i think the bigges problem here is how we teach our self und our kids on how to deal with trash: my mom told me that her parents tought her that if there is no trashbin, than take your trash with you until you see one. On the other hand one of my teachers told me that her parents just threw the thrash carelessly in the environment.

    PixelFoxFoxyPixelFoxFoxy21 dag sedan
  • wonder how much gets into the ocean from storms like tornado's an tsunami's

    87fubar87fubar22 dagar sedan
  • On my walks i always take a backpack with me to collect trash in the forrest. Last week i saw a tiny piece of plastic sticking out in the ground. I pulled it out and a whole bag of plastic came out filled with thrash. Butter cups, blisters of pills etc... the buttercups dated from 2010 and where not effected at all by lying under the ground for 10 years. People dont think about that. You can throw plastic on the ground and if nobody picks it up it will still be there 10, 20, 30 years later 😔

    Mirthe PeetersMirthe Peeters22 dagar sedan
  • Why microplastics is becoming a big problem.

    Nikhil AggarwalNikhil Aggarwal22 dagar sedan
  • Make those cities that dump their garbage pay to clean up the oceans .

    Glenn SchaubGlenn Schaub22 dagar sedan
  • The curly snow cytochemically dry because jumbo hepatosplenomegaly rejoice minus a necessary policeman. typical, pale boot

    Charles WarrenCharles Warren22 dagar sedan
  • The dislikers are people who throw their plastic in the ocean.

    Arcticol FurryArcticol Furry23 dagar sedan
  • It drowned

    Angel FrancoAngel Franco23 dagar sedan
  • It’s a huge problem, but when they showed the mass amount of black plastic bags filled with plastic, my stomach turned. A problem inside a problem! Yikes.

    Aaron HagarAaron Hagar23 dagar sedan
  • Plastic is a terrible problem. The world went from Glass Packaging to Plastic BIG MISTAKE. I hope we can Fix it b4 it destroys our environment permanently. Climate Change has been swinging back and forth since the Dawn of Time, When God Created the World and Put Man here.

    Alvin GlennAlvin Glenn23 dagar sedan
  • The alike graphic generically serve because gear scilly need opposite a brainy swamp. meek, silent thumb

    NoneOf YourBusinessNoneOf YourBusiness23 dagar sedan
  • most of hollywood is wearing it.

    ima piledriverima piledriver23 dagar sedan
  • We are all lazy pigs

    Amanda WhiteAmanda White23 dagar sedan
  • Another fantasy story like most of the Green lies.

    Bob JacksonBob Jackson23 dagar sedan
    • Father was in the navy, he said it gets really quiet on the boat when they go through the patch.

      FrostyEmberFrostyEmber19 dagar sedan
    • Sure buddy. Whatever makes you sleep at night.

      Focused StudyingFocused Studying23 dagar sedan
  • If 2>5 cents was placed on every plastic sold for research into alternatives and proper recycling etc., I am sure there will be solutions found! This should have been done from the inception of plastics, not leave it to future generation??

    Superman UDNTKSuperman UDNTK23 dagar sedan
  • Literally, the ONLY solution is heavy government oversight on production methods, waste, ingredients and result products. The average punter needs to vote for government that will take steps toward this and sure they can attempt to buy alternatives to plastic products but until corporations are forced to build more affordable alternatives most people can't make any real dent individually.

    Liam MarconLiam Marcon23 dagar sedan
  • Pick up the plastic bits on the beach, bring it back to the shore recycling bins, which get picked up by the recycling companies, who then dump it back into the ocean. That's recycling. From the beach, to the beach. Perfect!

    D.E.B. BD.E.B. B23 dagar sedan
  • The sea plastic pollution iceberg, explained.

    Tech FreakTech Freak23 dagar sedan
  • They are POISONING EVERYTHING with this Plastic in and on our beautiful planet 🌏 ❤

    Jean JordanJean Jordan24 dagar sedan
  • That’s why they go to other planets exploring possible garbage bins b4 we start shooting unmanned rockets over.

    Markt NMarkt N24 dagar sedan
  • I swear that the people with power ( well not all ) to change this all is like " Fk that, I'ma enjoy this life and I'm sure that I'm dead before the effects of that happen"

    kempPhille GonzaleskempPhille Gonzales24 dagar sedan
  • Solution: grabage in space

    PuffyLord -PuffyLord -24 dagar sedan
  • basically after we humans destory the earth we will go destroy mars next and so on...

    Nico AngeloNico Angelo24 dagar sedan
  • I get so angry about our cavalier attitude to plastic. I try to not use it in our daily lives but it is an ongoing journey. maddening how many people have NO IDEA!

    5wendy55wendy524 dagar sedan