The Eastern Garbage Patch is just the most obvious manifestation of the amount of pollution filling the seas. Even though seventy percent of plastic items will eventually sink, the UNEP estimates there are 46,000 pieces of marine debris for every square mile of all the world’s oceans. Nearly four fifths of this garbage has been carried from litter on land, washed into storm drains, or floated down rivers.
The problem, of course, is plastic and its nearly complete resistance to the elements. Able to last indefinitely in seawater, plastics will continue to plague the Eastern Pacific long after new solutions have been adopted on land.