German Scientists Track Origins of Plastic Waste in Arctic
According to estimates by the United Nations (UN), there could be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050. The UN is currently working to negotiate a globally binding agreement to control plastic pollution. "As for remote sources, plastic debris and microplastics are transpod to the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic, North Sea and North Pacific by various rivers and ocean currents," first author Anna Natalie Meyer said. This study "makes an important contribution to filling knowledge gaps that exist with regard to the sources and distribution pathways of plastic waste globally and in the Arctic in particular," a spokesperson of the German Environment Agency (UBA) said, adding that "global efforts are needed to reduce the volume of waste in general." "Toxic chemicals and millions of tons of plastic waste are flooding into coastal ecosystems, killing or injuring fish, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, making their way into the food chain and ultimately being consumed by us," UN Secretary Antonio Guterres said in a speech at the end of January. In cooperation with Arctic tour operators, traveling tourists from Germany collected trash washed up on the shores of the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard. Between 2016 and 2021, around 23,000 items with a total weight of 1,620 kg were picked up. Five percent of identified plastic trash in the Arctic originated from more distant places, such as the United States, China, Korea and Brazil. "Plastic debris is a global problem that even the uninhabited wilderness of the High North is not immune to," the AWI said in the statement.