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Seas of plastic


The map denotes a significant amount of plastic in the oceans
The map denotes a significant amount of plastic in the oceans

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

March 28, 2013 — A new, interactive map provides insight into the amount of man-made debris present in the world's oceans.

The "source" view provides a different perspective
The "source" view provides a different perspective

Plastic is an integral part of modern society, but this "miracle material" has a downside.

It's estimated that 1 billion tons of plastic have been discarded since the 1950s, and research suggests it will take up to 500 years for some forms to biodegrade.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 8% of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 in the U.S. actually made it to recycling plants.

The other 92% was shuffled off to landfills or found its way into the water.

It's no secret that plastic has invaded the world's oceans, but it can be hard to visualize the amount of man-made debris that's been generated, and the impact it has had on ecosystems.

A new, interactive map provides some food for thought.

Dumpark Creative Industries' "Seas of Plastic" allows users to visualize the amount of plastic present in the oceans on a colour-coded map.

Switch to the "source" view and users can see the amount of plastic particles countries have generated.

Dumpark used hydrodynamic data, human impact studies and coastal population records, along with daily oceanic circulation logs to determine the density of plastic released into the ocean, and their entrance point.

The data was looped to create a 25 year simulation, representing an estimate of what's in the water today. 

Dumpark's Seas of Plastic map can be found online at Visual.ly.

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