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Dirty oceans The garbage in the sea

Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Ocean Pollution Awareness (April 2019).


How much plastic waste floats in our seas? At least 100 million tons are currently polluting our oceans - and around 10 million tons are added annually. As a consumer you can contribute your personal part. How long which plastic remains in our seas can be downloaded from our free graphic.

Biodegradable are the least of the substances that land in the sea day after day. Three quarters of the garbage is made of plastics. On land, a plastic bottle "survives" for up to 25, 000 years. In the water, the decomposition process is faster, but is just as worrying: it takes up to 20 years for a plastic bag in the water, 50 years for cans, 450 years for plastic bottles and disposable diapers. More information is available on our graphic as a free download.

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Where does the garbage come from?

The sources of waste differ regionally. In the Northeast Atlantic, for example, maritime activities such as fishing and shipping are responsible for pollution, as well as leisure and tourism at the seashore. A large part of the waste reaches the Baltic Sea via the rivers. The mass tourism during the holiday season provides year after year for a huge amount of garbage in the Mediterranean. Household and hygiene articles also pollute the European inland sea. In Eastern Europe poorly managed landfills are among the main causes of the landfill crisis. For example, waste from towns and communities in the Black Sea is found particularly frequently.

Threat to humans and animals

Which waste land in the sea especially often and how much time elapses before it is mined is shown in our free graphic >>

Between 100 and 150 million tons of garbage are now floating in our oceans, with 10 million tons added each year. These dimensions are not imaginable - but their effects are all the more catastrophic for the environment, humans and animals. Sea animals and birds swallow garbage or get caught up in it. Particularly problematic is microplastic, which gets into the food chain by swallowing animals. Such threats directly threaten at least 660 species of animals.

Of course, human health is also affected. Dishes containing fish and shellfish may contain microplastic. Contaminated bathing water is also a potential risk, as are sharp objects on bathing beaches. In addition, ships and their crew are threatened by garbage in the oceans. Sea rescues are becoming increasingly common because marine waste blocks ships' oars and propulsion systems.

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