The giant floating mass of plastic and other debris in the Pacific Ocean is now three times the size of France and growing exponentially, scientists warned in a new report Thursday.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or GPGP, is not a solid mass, but instead a large area between Hawaii and California where ocean currents have brought together a massive amount of debris that grows denser toward the center of the area.
Some of the plastic pieces are very large, while others are tiny fragments called microplastics.
About 60% of the plastic produced in the world is less dense than seawater, so when it's introduced to the marine environment, buoyant pieces are often transported by surface currents and winds, researchers say. Some of the debris gets broken down by sun, wind, and waves and sink. But a lot of it remains on the surface.