How on Earth Does Plastic Get Into The Ocean

Plastic is a popular type of materials thanks to its cheap price, versatility, and convenience. However, when plastic gets into the ocean, it becomes a long-term threat to the sea creatures. So guess how much plastics get into the ocean every day? – 8 millions at least. It becomes clearer and clearer now that we should try our best to minimize and prevent plastic pollution. This way, we can enhance the health of the oceans. In order to do so, first, we should know the answer to the question: “ how does plastic get into the ocean ”. After that, it will be easier to prevent this from happening in the first place.

If you care about the environment of the ocean and its living creatures, read this article for information about the sources of plastics in the ocean.

The long-term impact of plastics on the ocean’s

After plastics get into the ocean, most of them will float and go along with the ocean currents to create various garbage patches. There are at least 5 biggest garbage patches in 5 different oceans.

When plastics get into the ocean for a long time, they are torn into very small pieces. Sea living creatures will then eat these plastics, getting poisoned or choked to death. Other devastating results include creatures getting trapped in plastics, baby turtles getting deformed shells and food chain altered.

Cleaning plastics up is never an easy task as plastics in the ocean are so small. Currently, there is a new developing technology that works as a big vacuum to suck up these plastics. But it is the story of the future. For now, it would take a huge amount of energy and resources to collect a tiny partial amount of plastics.

Therefore, the best way to keep the ocean clean of plastics is to prevent them from getting into the ocean as much as possible.

The long-term impact of plastics on the ocean’s

Image sourcE: GreenBiz

How does plastic get into the ocean

Land Sources Of Plastics

This is the most popular source of plastics that people find in the ocean. In fact, 80 % of the plastics in the ocean are from activities in the land.

It might be an unpleasant surprise to many people that the plastic trash you throw away from a far inland can get into the ocean. When we throw a plastic bag out on the street, the wind will blow it and it will travel into a sewer pipe. Then this plastic bag goes along with the sewer pipe into the waterways, which wind and tide carry into the ocean finally.

Even if you throw the plastic bag into trash cans, it can also get into the ocean. After the bag is transferred to a waste management facility, a lightweight plastic bottle can be easily blown away into the river and get its way into the ocean. If the facility is near a river or the beach, the process is even easier and quicker.

In some other cases, when people go to the beach, they leave their rubbish behind, including plastic bottles. Then when the waves and the tide come in and go away, they take these rubbish plastic bottles with them into the ocean.

One of the sources that you might have never expected is from our daily face cleanser, scrubs, and toothpastes. In these cleaning products, there are some microbeads. These are extremely fine plastic pellets which our sewage treatment plants cannot filter.

Land Sources Of Plastics

Image source: Ensia

Other tiny forms of plastics are polyester and nylon which they use for made petroleum-based fabrics. When you wash the clothes made from these fabrics, these tiny plastics are washed down and get through the sewer with their tiny sizes. They will go directly to the ocean along with processed waste.

Factory Wastes

Another source of plastics in the ocean comes from factory wastes, especially the wastes the factories which produce plastics or use plastic as the ingredients. Some factories want to avoid the cost of filtering their wastes and just dump everything from their waste illegally, plastics included, directly into the ocean.

On the other hand, even when a factory does its best to filter its wastes, accidents can happen. Therefore, plastics can be leaked through the waste drainage pipes into the ocean.

Boats And Ships At Sea

Last but not least, plastics can get into the ocean from boats and ships at sea. First of all, some people working or traveling on boats and ships at sea might throw plastic bottles or things like that into the sea. Second of all, containers from these boats and ships can fall over when the sea is extremely rough.

The content from these containers can be spilled out into the ocean. There are events like that happened in the past. In the 90s, there was a container of plastic rubber ducks which they spill into the ocean during the case of a rough storm.  These ducks are definitely remaining in the ocean at the moment.

Boats And Ships At Sea

Image source: SUSD0001-Sustainable Individual Blogs – blogger


Overall, there are a few ways that plastics can get into the ocean including land sources of plastics, factory wastes and from boats and ships.

I hope that with the article about “How does plastic get into the ocean?” you would have more knowledge about this problem as well as becoming more aware of your actions. With such information, you would be able to control your actions to minimize your footprints. In addition, you can help by contributing your part to protecting the environment, especially protecting the lives and natural habitat of the aquatic creatures.

By the year 2050, there would be more pieces of plastics in the ocean than fish, so if we don’t act now, it is going to be too late soon.

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