Expedition Plastic takes the pulse of the world

We know that every year 10 million tonnes of plastic are discharged on our planet – one lorry per minute. What is the effect of this? Where does the plastic go, and how much of it do we find at the surface of the sea? Are there islands or soups of plastic in the oceans?


Part 1: Expedition Plastic from Denmark to the Caribbean

In 2014, Plastic Change’s expedition ship headed out on a 16,000 nautical mile expedition to document and inform of the extent of the problem, along with a number of scientists. It is essential to Plastic Change that we get the necessary knowledge to estimate the extent of the problem.


We know that the plastic is carried with ocean currents into five primary plastic soups that make up an area the size of Africa.


There are five plastic soups - one in The Indian Ocean, two in the northern and southern Atlantic Ocean and two in the northern and southern Pacific Ocean. Plastic Change has recently explored the North Pacific plastic soup , in close collaboration with Danish universities, especially Roskilde and Aarhus Universities, as well as USA.


All the data from the expedition will be shared with the American 5gyres Institute that is a primary partner to Plastic Change. At 5gyres, data is collected from all over the world, and by use of modelling the development of plastic pollution is estimated according to quantity and spreading. The expedition is supported by Den Blå Planet, Orients Fond and the Danish Crown Prince and the Crown Princess' fund.


Part 2: Expedition Plastic to Hawaii

The expedition in December went from Los Angeles to Hawaii with scientists and documentarists on board. On the way they sailed through the most plastic polluted sea in the world. Several hundred pieces of plastic pieces for every square kilometre drift in the sea north of Hawaii. Here they took samples every day that will now be examined and analysed. They documented the problem for use in future scientific articles, debate and feature articles, blogs, presentations, TV documentaries and teaching resources.
The expedition draws attention to plastic pollution in the oceans and the message: “Yes to plastic-free oceans”.


In Hawaii they met with local scientists who work with the plastic problem in the oceans. They visited the highly polluted Kamilo Beach spoiled by micro and macro plastic brought by the currents from all over the world.


As soon as the data from this part of the expedition are available, we will upload them here.


Read more about the mission here.