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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Plastic soup is a term referring to pollution of the sea by plastics in general, ranging from large pieces of fishing gear that can entrap marine animals to the microplastics and nanoplastics that result from the breakdown or photodegradation of plastic waste in surface waters, rivers or oceans.

The term was coined by Charles J. Moore in 1997, after he found patches of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Gyre between Hawaii and California.[1] This Great Pacific Garbage Patch had previously been described in 1988 by scientists who used the term neuston plastic to describe "The size fraction of plastic debris caught in nets designed to catch surface plankton (hereafter referred to as neuston plastic)", and acknowledged that earlier studies in the 1970s had shown that "neuston plastic is widespread, is most abundant in the central and western North Pacific, and is distributed by currents and winds".[2]

The term is sometimes used to refer only to pollution by microplastics, pieces of plastic less than 5mm in size such as fibres shed from synthetic textiles in laundry: the British National Federation of Women's Institutes passed a resolution in 2017 headlined "End Plastic Soup" but concentrating on this aspect of pollution.[3]

The Amsterdam-based Plastic Soup Foundation is an advocacy group which aims to raise awareness of the problem, educate people, and support the development of solutions.[4]

As of January 2019 the Oxford English Dictionary did not include the terms plastic soup, neuston plastic or neustonic plastic, but it defined the term microplastic (or micro-plastic) as "Extremely small pieces of plastic, manufactured as such (in the form of nurdles or microbeads) or resulting from the disposal and breakdown of plastic products and waste" and its illustrative quotations all relate to marine pollution, the earliest being a 1990 reference in the South African Journal of Science: "The mean frequency of micro-plastic particles increased from 491 m-1 of beach in 1984 to 678 m-1 in 1989".[5]

See also


  1. ^ "What is plastic soup?". Plastic Soup Foundation. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  2. ^ Day, Robert H.; Shaw, David G.; Ignell, Steven E. (1988). R. S. Shomura and M. L. Godfrey (ed.). "The Quantitative Distribution and Characteristics of Neuston Plastic in the North Pacific Ocean, 1985-88. (Final Report to U.S. Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Auke Bay Laboratory. Auke Bay, Alaska)" (PDF). Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Marine Debris, 2-7 April 1989. Honolulu, Hawaii. pp. 247–266. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  3. ^ "End Plastic Soup". 100 Years of WI Campaigns. NFWI. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Mission and vision". Plastic Soup Foundation. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Microplastic, adj. and n.: B. n.". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
This page was last edited on 5 March 2020, at 16:40
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