HOW MUCH PLASTIC FLOATS IN THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH?
At the time of sampling, there were more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch that weigh an estimated 80,000 tons. These figures are much higher than previous calculations.
The mass of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) was estimated to be approximately 80,000 tonnes, which is 4-16 times more than previous calculations. This weight is also equivalent to that of 500 Jumbo Jets.
The center of the GPGP has the highest density and the further boundaries are the least dense. When quantifying the mass of the GPGP, the team chose to account only for the denser center area. If the less-dense outer region was also considered in the total estimate, the total mass would then be closer to 100,000 tonnes.
A total of 1.8 trillion plastic pieces were estimated to be floating in the patch – a plastic count that is equivalent to 250 pieces of debris for every human in the world.
Using a similar approach as they did when figuring the mass, the team chose to employ conservative estimations of the plastic count. While 1.8 trillion is a mid-range value for the total count, their calculations estimated that it may be range from 1.1 to up to 3.6 trillion pieces.