22 million pounds of plastic a year
in Great Lakes
By Tony Briscoe/Chicago Tribune
Photo by VV Ninsic/flickr
Plastics pollution in global waters has become one of the most complex issues of the 21st century. Scientists have identified giant gyres of garbage accumulating in offshore ocean currents. Examinations of dead whales and other large marine animals show they’ve ingested plastic items, like garbage bags. Researchers say that plastic litter in the oceans is poised to outweigh the amount of fish by 2050.
Meanwhile, microplastics, particles that start out smaller than 5 millimeters or are broken down from larger items, have been found in the falling rain in Colorado, carried by the wind to remote regions of the Pyrenees mountains in France and surfaced in drifting snow in the Arctic.
However, it’s only been in the last decade that research into plastics pollution has gained urgency in the Great Lakes, the planet’s largest system of freshwater.