During the recent search for the lost Malaysian airplane, satellites repeatedly found debris in the ocean thought to be pieces of the plane, only to discover the debris to be mere garbage floating at sea. This unfortunate and highly publicized event brought some attention to the growing problem of plastics littering the ocean. Over 130 species of marine life have been found tangled in sizable ocean debris, but perhaps more frightening is the fact that the majority of ocean debris is composed of micro-plastic, or plastic decayed to microscopic size and often ingested by marine life. The discovery of micro-plastic lead to the realization a decade ago that cleaning the world’s oceans would be an even larger problem than originally believed.
A number of entities, including dozens of plastic manufacturers from all over the world, are attacking the problem of ocean garbage. Some of those companies market products made from recycled ocean plastic. Beach cleanups have also become popular in recent years. But the magnitude of the problem is so daunting that these programs tend to have little to no overall effect.