Effects of plastic on oceans
In 2012, it was estimated that there was approximately 165 million tons of plastic pollution in the world's oceans. The Ocean Conservancy reported that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dump more plastic in the sea than all other countries combined.
One study estimated that there are more than 5 trillion plastic pieces (defined into the four classes of small microplastics, large microplastics, meso- and macroplastics) afloat at sea. The litter that is being delivered into the oceans is toxic to marine life, and humans. The toxins that are components of plastic include diethylhexyl phthalate, which is a toxic carcinogen, as well as lead, cadmium, and mercury.
Plankton, fish, and ultimately the human race, through the food chain, ingest these highly toxic carcinogens and chemicals. Consuming the fish that contain these toxins can cause an increase in cancer, immune disorders, and birth defects.
The majority of the litter near and in the ocean is made up of plastics and is a persistent pervasive source of marine pollution. According to Dr. Marcus Eriksen of The 5 Gyres Institute, there are 5.25 trillion particles of plastic pollution that weigh as much as 270,000 tons (2016). This plastic is taken by the ocean currents and accumulates in large vortexes known as ocean gyres. The majority of the gyres become pollution dumps filled with plastic.