One of the main problems with plastic is that they do not easily degrade. They may break down but they just break down into smaller pieces which is almost worse because the smaller the pieces get, the more places they can end up. A lot of those pieces end up in the ocean and the smaller a plastic bit becomes the more likely it will make its way into a living thing whether it’s a tiny plankton or a whale; plastic can kill many kinds of marine life.
Sea turtles and toothed whales gulp down plastic bags because they mistake them for squid. Sea birds scoop up floating plastic pieces because they mistake them for fish eggs and they skim floating trash with their beaks then feed the plastic to their young which can eventually kill them.
The amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans remains unknown but scientists estimate that it’s about 10 percent and a recent study suggests that as much as 8 million metric tons ended up in the ocean in 2010 (Student Science, 2015). Of those millions of tons about 80 percent has been used on land and storms wash the plastic litter into rivers and streams which then carry the trash downstream to the ocean. The other 20 percent of plastic in the ocean enters the water directly including fishing lines, nets and other debris dumped overboard.
Trying to clean up micro plastics is nearly impossible; they are so tiny and widespread that there is no way to remove them from seas. The best way to prevent more plastic from reaching the ocean are trash traps and litter booms which can catch the garbage before it enters waterways but an even better solution is to just reduce plastic waste in general.