Mystery Of The Missing Plastic – Where Does All The Rubbish In The Indian Ocean Go?

Source: Phys.org/University of Western Australia

Photo: Brian Yurasits

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Researchers at The University of Western Australia have found that although the Indian Ocean is the world’s biggest dumping ground for plastic waste, nobody seems to know where it goes.

Professor Chari Pattiaratchi, from UWA’s Oceans Graduate School and the Oceans Institute, said compared to other , little research had been done to measure and track  in the Indian Ocean.

“As technology to remotely track plastics doesn’t yet exist, we need to use indirect ways to determine the fate of plastic in the Indian Ocean,” Professor Pattiaratchi said.

In a research paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, researchers used information gathered from more than 22,000 satellite tracked surface drifting buoys that had been released around all the world’s oceans since 1979, to simulate pathways of plastic  globally with an emphasis on the Indian Ocean.

Professor Pattiaratchi said every year, up to 15 million tonnes of plastic waste was estimated to make its way into the through coastlines and rivers.

“This amount is expected to double by 2025,” he said. “Some of this waste sinks in the ocean, some is washed up on beaches and some floats on the ocean surface, transported by the ocean currents.

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Photo: Brian Yurasits