Urgent Alert: The Ocean's Fate Hangs in the Balance as Plastic Pollution Threatens to Outweigh Fish Population

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 14, 2023

An estimated 363.8 billion pounds of plastic pollution is in the world’s oceans, according to recently published data. Plastic pollution in the oceans has become a worldwide crisis. Swirling convergences of plastic cover approximately 40% of the ocean surfaces. 

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If the trend persists, plastic is projected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. Over 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic float in the waters, averaging 46,000 pieces per square mile of ocean.

Experts say urgent action is necessary to combat this global epidemic, given the long-lasting presence of plastic because of its durability.

In the battle against plastic waste, traditional approaches like biodegradability or compostability have long been regarded as the gold standard for green labeling. But Timeplast is challenging this notion by introducing a new paradigm — water solubility. Unlike biodegradable materials that require specific conditions like soil bacteria, oxygen or heat, Timeplast just needs water to disintegrate. The startup claims even to be able to program plastic to allow to begin to disintegrate between hours and days, depending on ones needs.

After disintegrating, Timeplast’s solution contains no microplastics or harsh chemicals. In a unique demonstration, Timeplast’s CEO is show drinking a glass of water formerly filled with Timeplast’s plastic. This solution has attracted the attention of retail investors, who have been investing millions into the startup.

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Plastic infiltrates various aspects of everyday life, from single-use packaging and consumer goods to microplastic fibers in clothing. The rate of plastic production surpassed the cumulative amount produced before the year 2000 in just the first decade of the 21st century. 

The fossil fuel industry's plans to increase plastic production by 40% in the next decade worsen the problem, leading to increased toxic air pollution and more plastic waste in the oceans. All five major ocean gyres, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, face overwhelming levels of plastic pollution. 

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Marine life is significantly affected by plastic ingestion. Fish in the North Pacific consume 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic annually, transferring it up the food chain to larger fish, marine mammals and humans who consume seafood. 

Sea turtles mistake floating plastic for food, resulting in choking, internal injuries and starvation. Seabirds suffer from reduced stomach volume and starvation because of plastic ingestion, with an estimated 60% of seabird species affected. Marine mammals like Hawaiian monk seals and Steller sea lions are threatened by plastic entanglement and ingestion.

Efforts have been made to address ocean trash, including initiatives like The Ocean Cleanup and the International Coastal Cleanup. Governments worldwide are implementing policies and regulations, including bans on single-use plastics, to mitigate plastic pollution.

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