The Environment

Top 5 Sources of Ocean Plastic

What are the top 5 sources of ocean plastic? This is not an easy question to answer, as we are still learning about the true nature of plastic in our oceans. We have estimated the top 5 contributors as per the below list, but please read on to find out more.

The List

  1. Fibers from Synthetic Clothes (35%)

  2. Particles from Vehicle Tires (28%)

  3. Unknown PET Micro Plastics (From Broken Down Plastic Bottles and other things made from PET)

  4. ?

  5. ?

The fact is

By Numbers (Counting)

The problem starts when the particles are so small as to be unrecognisable. There are trillions of these micro plastic particles in our oceans. But lets make a start at trying to estimate the worst offenders.

The problem with the above numbers is that they come from being actually counting piece of identifiable plastic. If the plastics are too small, such as micro plastics then they will go uncounted.

Estimates from Other Sources

The below picture shows a section of micro plastics. It is quite hard to identify what they are, and therefore their source. But some studies show that the three biggest contributors are acyclic, polyester and nylon. Micro beads, are a large contributor, but also fiber releases when we wash our clothes.

top five ocean plastic

Number Crunching

Fact 1: 99% of plastics in ocean are micro plastics.


 Fact 2: 19 - 31% of micro plastics are primary plastics - laundering of synthetic clothes (35% of primary microplastics); abrasion of tyres through driving (28%); intentionally added microplastics in personal care products, for example microbeads in facial scrubs (2%)

Fact 3: Secondary micro plastics  69-81% of micro plastics found in the oceans.



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