We know that every year 8 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? How is the situation in and around the soups of plastic in the oceans?
This is what we have been exploring during Expedition Plastic from it started it's circumnavigation of the globe in 2014 and till now, where it is on its way from Hawaii to French Polynesia. The expedition documents and draws attention to plastic pollution 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.
One of these plastic soups is located in The Indian Ocean, two in the northern and southern Atlantic Ocean and two in the northern and southern Pacific Ocean. During our expeditions, Plastic Change has 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 one 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 expeditions are supported by Den Blå Planet, Orients Fond and the Danish Crown Prince and the Crown Princess' fund.
Part 2: Expedition Plastic to Hawaii
In 2016 the expedition entered the Pacific via Galapagos, up along the Mexican coast to Los Angeles. Later the same year it went to Hawaii. All the way with scientists and documentarists on board. On the way they passed 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.
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.
Part 3: Hawaii to French Polynesia
In the beginning of December 2017 our ship once again set sails with a crew of 9 people, including researchers. This time the course was set from Hawaii to The Marquesas Islands - a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia. The crew made it there between Christmas and New Years eve. Along their journey, for the first time since the Expedition Plastic started back in 2014, the researchers collected a water sample that did not contain plastic particles.