UGA Researcher Measures Ocean Waste

06 February 2014

ATHENS - A University of Georgia researcher is working to measure the amount of plastic waste in oceans.

A group called Ocean Conservancy estimated that 2012 about 10 million pounds of plastic waste was removed from ocean cleanup sites. UGA engineering professor Jenna Jamback says the actual amount of waste is much more than that and is continuing to increase.

“We won’t reach peak waste this century,” Jambeck said.

Ocean plastic and other pollution comes from land sources as well as seagoing sources such as recreational and commercial fishing boats, she said.

This type of pollution can harm ocean life and even humans. Turtles and whales may die after getting tangled up in the debris such as abandoned fishing nets. Animals can also ingest harmful chemicals emitted from the waste.

Jambeck and other researchers are studying the fate of solid wastes generated in hundreds of cities and nearly 200 countries to come up with their estimates. They are working on getting the type of plastics found in the ocean, as well as the amount.

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