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A 25-year-old's mission to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has yielded a new discovery a?? and it means the plastic problem is even worse than we thought

A 25-year-old's mission to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has yielded a new discovery a?? and it means the plastic problem is even worse than we thought
The Ocean Cleanup



Millions of tons of plastic accumulate in the oceans each year, but only a small fraction of that winds up on the surface.




For years, scientists believed that the "missing" plastic quickly degraded into tiny fragments after entering the ocean, then fell to the bottom of the sea.




A new study from The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit founded by 25-year-old Boyan Slat, challenges that theory.




The study found that plastics undergo a long journey toward areas like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash-filled vortex that's more than twice the size of Texas. Along the way, plastic either gets pushed back toward land or sinks beneath the surface of the water.




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Around 8.8 million tons of plastic accumulate in the oceans each year, but only about 270,000 tons are believed to be floating on the ocean's surface.
For years, most scientists have thought that the "missing" plastic quickly degrades after entering the ocean, breaking apart into microplastics — tiny fragments less than 5 millimeters long. Those tiny pieces then fall to the bottom of the sea, many researchers figured.
But this theory is inconsistent with observations made by researchers at The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that aims to rid the oceans of plastic. The organization was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Boyan Slat, who was just 19 years old at the time. Slat is now 25 and inching closer toward his goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a trash-filled ocean vortex that's more than twice the size of Texas.
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