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An inshore–offshore sorting system revealed from global classification of ocean litter

Carmen Morales-Caselles (), Josué Viejo, Elisa Martí, Daniel González-Fernández, Hannah Pragnell-Raasch, J. Ignacio González-Gordillo, Enrique Montero, Gonzalo M. Arroyo, Georg Hanke, Vanessa S. Salvo, Oihane C. Basurko, Nicholas Mallos, Laurent Lebreton, Fidel Echevarría, Tim Emmerik, Carlos M. Duarte, José A. Gálvez, Erik Sebille, François Galgani, Carlos M. García, Peter S. Ross, Ana Bartual, Christos Ioakeimidis, Gorka Markalain, Atsuhiko Isobe and Andrés Cózar ()
Additional contact information
Carmen Morales-Caselles: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Josué Viejo: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Elisa Martí: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Daniel González-Fernández: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Hannah Pragnell-Raasch: Project Aware, Dive Against Debris
J. Ignacio González-Gordillo: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Enrique Montero: Asociación Proyecto Ecopuertos
Gonzalo M. Arroyo: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Georg Hanke: European Commission Joint Research Centre, Directorate D – Sustainable Resources, European Commission
Vanessa S. Salvo: Posidonia Green Project
Oihane C. Basurko: AZTI Marine Research, Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA)
Nicholas Mallos: Ocean Conservancy
Laurent Lebreton: The Ocean Cleanup
Fidel Echevarría: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Tim Emmerik: Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University
Carlos M. Duarte: Red Sea Research Centre (RSRC) and Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
José A. Gálvez: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Erik Sebille: Utrecht University
François Galgani: IFREMER (French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea), Immeuble Agostini, Z.I. Furiani
Carlos M. García: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Peter S. Ross: University of British Columbia
Ana Bartual: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Christos Ioakeimidis: UNEP/ Mediterranean Action Plan, Barcelona Convention Secretariat
Gorka Markalain: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)
Atsuhiko Isobe: Kyushu University
Andrés Cózar: University of Cadiz and European University of the Seas (SEA-EU), Instituto Universitario de Investigación Marina (INMAR)

Nature Sustainability, 2021, vol. 4, issue 6, 484-493

Abstract: Abstract The surge of research on marine litter is generating important information on its inputs, distribution and impacts, but data on the nature and origin of the litter remain scattered. Here, we harmonize worldwide litter-type inventories across seven major aquatic environments and find that a set of plastic items from take-out food and beverages largely dominates global litter, followed by those resulting from fishing activities. Compositional differences between environments point to a trend for litter to be trapped in nearshore areas so that land-sourced plastic is released to the open ocean, predominantly as small plastic fragments. The world differences in the composition of the nearshore litter sink reflected socioeconomic drivers, with a reduced relative weight of single-use items in high-income countries. Overall, this study helps inform urgently needed actions to manage the production, use and fate of the most polluting human-made items on our planet, but the challenge remains substantial.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00720-8

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