Marine Plastic Pollution - FINAL
9 December 2020
The use of PPE, in particular face masks, and to a lesser extent gloves and face shields, has become widespread and a common tool used in preventing the spread of the pandemic, with many jurisdictions mandating the wearing of masks in public. [...] Over the course of conversations about the issue, the question often arises as to how many masks are entering the marine environment, and why? This report seeks to answer these questions, and to provide an overview of the issue of marine plastic pollution and the impact of face masks on our oceans. [...] The North Pacific Gyre is but one of five oceanic gyres on the planet, the others being the North Atlantic Gyre, the South Atlantic Gyre, the South Pacific Gyre, and the Indian Ocean Gyres, each of which also accumulates floating plastic pollution.32 Estimates of the total number of pieces of plastic floating in our oceans are as hard to conceptualize as they are to calculate, owing to such factor. [...] noted that the weight of plastic found floating accounted for a mere ~1% of global plastic entering our oceans annually.35 The discrepancy between the amount of plastic that enters our oceans and the amount found floating on the surface of the ocean is often referred to as the ‘missing plastic problem.’36 A number of researchers are working to resolve the issues highlighted by this problem.37 16 S. [...] 28 PPE and the Response to COVID-19 The use of PPE, face masks, and to a lesser extent gloves, face shields and gowns, has become widespread and a common tool used in preventing the spread of the pandemic.