If the extreme heat waves and intense rains of this summer make us talk about climate change, another emergency, which affects everyone, remains silent in the background: that of plastic pollution and other waste in the seas.
The difficulty in finding reliable data, given the extent of the oceans and the presence of currents and winds that move the visible pieces, does not prevent us from making approximate estimates, which are however alarming: the total is around 150 million tons of waste already reached, with an average of 10 million a year, as if a garbage truck ended up in the sea every minute.
Disposable bottles and bags are the main type of waste, but there is no shortage of damaged fishing nets, cables, sanitary towels, tampons, cotton buds, condoms, cigarette butts, disposable lighters and, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, disposable masks and gloves.
Unlike organic materials, plastic takes hundreds of years to completely degrade; therefore it tends to be transported by ocean currents and to accumulate, to create real floating islands of plastic, such as the famous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
However, UNEP, the United Nations program for the environment, claims that 70% of total marine litter rests on the seabed: an invisible part that threatens the health of the seas and underwater fauna in an even more worrying way.