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Plastic Debris at the Ends of World
Over the course of a six-week expedition aboard a Greenpeace research vessel earlier this year scientists collected approximately 3 metric tons of garbage from Antarctic beaches. Marine scientists working on another Greenpeace vessel in the same area detected significant levels of tiny shards of plastic floating in the surrounding waters, most likely shed by larger items breaking down over time.

According to oceanographers, Antarctica is surrounded by a current that should protect it from any spillover from the Pacific. The fact that plastic debris is still present indicates either gaps in the natural barrier, or that the fishing vessels and cruise ships plying the region are responsible.

The International Energy Agency predicts that a growth in oil demand related to plastic production will overtake that for road-passenger transport by 2050. Yet less than 14% of plastic worldwide is recycled. The rest ends up in dumps, and, far too often, the ocean.

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