Tuesday 14 May 2024

My Comment on the Article “Ocean floor a 'reservoir' for plastic pollution, world-first study finds”

Hello and welcome to this post in which I share my comment on the article I recently read on plastics pollution on the ocean floor. 

Here you can access the original article by CSIRO/Natalie Kikken and the research paper here.

The ocean ground pollution study

The research was conducted in the collaboration of different research institutes from Australia and Canada and the highlights of the study are summarized as follows: 

-that the deep sea plastic sampling efforts to date are concentrated in coastal marine environments.

-the ocean floor reservoir contains 3–11 million metric tons of plastic pollution. This number was estimated by models and the raw data came from remote operated vehicles (ROVs) and another source used the data from bottom trawls.

-Macroplastic clusters (definition: particles larger than 5 mm) around located around continents, close to human populations.

-And the researchers highlight where gaps in sampling effort can be filled to improve future models.

How do I see the result of this research and what is my assessment of this study?

On the one hand it is good to investigate the topic of current plastic pollution on the ocean floor, on the other hand, I miss the comparisons to other polluting materials which are also present on the bottom of our seas. 

Apart from plastics, which only represent a small percentage in overall materials (1 vol.%), which other pollution can one find on the ground of our seas?

The infographic below highlights other materials which were purposely discharged to the bottom of our seas. They represent a danger for sea life and us humans too: 

-Oil & Wrecks: 6,300 wrecks containing 15 million tons of oil

-Radioactive waste: 200,000 tons nuclear waste

-Heavy metals:  over 1 million tons of heavy metals in industrial wastes

- Ocean dumping prior to 1972: 100 million tons of petroleum products

-2-4 million tons of acid chemical wastes from pulp mills

>100,000 tons of organic chemical wastes

Infographic: Ocean ground pollution - it's not only plastics. 


In conclusion, plastics should not end up in the oceans in the first place. It is mainly due to littering of people. We have littering problem and not a plastic problem. They are part of the solution and should be collected and recycled (ranging from thermal recycling over downcycling to new products). 

Also, when reading such articles, always keep a critical eye on the data presented and start asking yourself questions. I did the same when I came across the article from the CSIRO organization and added some more data on other polluting materials. 

If you are interested in the Ocean plastic topic, check out these two posts: 

What The Media Does Not Tell You About Ocean Plastics

Ocean Plastics Episode 2 - What The Media, NGOs and Others Still Not Tell You

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics


Herwig Juster

Interested in having a second opinion on your material selection and high performance polymers, including price evaluation or  discuss with me about your current sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.

!NEW! Ultra and High Performance Polymer Selection - new online course coming soon - join the waiting list join the waiting list


[1] https://www.csiro.au/en/news/All/News/2024/April/Ocean-floor-a-reservoir-for-plastic-pollution-world-first-study-finds

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0967063724000360?dgcid=coauthor

[3] https://www.findoutaboutplastics.com/2022/06/ocean-plastics-episode-2-what-media.html

[4] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/plastic-fact-over-fiction-chris-dearmitt-phd-frsc-fimmm/

[5] https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727761-600-why-wartime-wrecks-are-slicking-time-bombs/

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgdE55ZAFvs&t=4s

[7] Michael F. Ashby: Materials and the Environment: Eco-informed Material Choice

[8] https://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=18077&lang=en

[9] https://www.envirotech-online.com/news/water-wastewater/9/breaking-news/why-is-there-heavy-metal-in-our-oceans/32291


[11] https://inis.iaea.org/search/searchsinglerecord.aspx?recordsFor=SingleRecord&RN=21044010

[12] https://www.epa.gov/ocean-dumping/learn-about-ocean-dumping#Before


No comments:

Post a Comment