Plastic pollution in the ocean : what we know and what we don't know about


  • Ballerini Tosca
  • Pen Jean-Ronan
  • Andrady Anthony
  • Cole Matthew
  • Galgani François
  • Kedzierski Mikaël
  • Pedrotti Maria Luiza
  • ter Halle Alexandra
  • van Arkel Kim
  • Zettler Erik
  • Amaral-Zettler Linda
  • Bruzaud Stéphane
  • Brandon Jennifer
  • Durand Gael
  • Enevoldsen Enrik
  • Eriksen Marcus
  • Fabre Pascale
  • Fossi Maria
  • Frère Laura
  • Wong-Wah-Chung Pascal

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Plastic pollution is pervasive in world oceans and has gained large attention by the media, the public and the governments. The urgency of this issue was recognized by nearly 200 countries that signed in December 2017 in Nairobi the U.N. draft Resolution on Marine Litter and Microplastics. It encourages Member States and stakeholders to take action but despite acknowledging the problem, the resolution does not contain any legally binding agreement. Meanwhile plastic litter continues to accumulate in world oceans. It has been estimated that 8 million tons (Mt) of plastic waste reaches the ocean each year, and with no action that volume is projected to double by 2030, and double again by 2050. In order to tackle this issue, NGOs, startups, activists, public and private decision makers need correct information about the reality of plastic pollution in the sea, its impacts on marine ecosystems and human health. Among the large quantity of information available, it is difficult to differentiate exaggerated alarms from miracle solutions, while taking into account unknown but potential risks of plastic pollution. Scientific evidence shows a complex reality. In order to increase overall scientific literacy on plastic pollution, the associated risks and the possible solutions, thecamp, the new innovation campus located in Aix-en-Provence, France, has created the Plastic and Ocean Platform with the view of bringing together and promoting collaboration between scientists, NGOs and plastic experts. The goal of the Platform, supported by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, is to facilitate the exchange of information and provide a clear and comprehensible overview of the current scientific knowledge and understanding about plastic pollution and the way to fight it. This information will be shared widely to the media, the general public and the decision makers. As of today, more than 30 international research scientists and 20 NGOs have contributed to the Plastic and Ocean Platform. We are now expanding this network. The first production of the Plastic and Ocean Platform is a state of the art on what is known and what is not known about plastic pollution. Following a collective work with the NGOs, the scientists have produced a scientific summary that gives synthetic answers to the most common questions the public is asking on the reality of plastic pollution and its consequences.

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