Dear Tom,
Is there recent news about the Pacific Ocean garbage patch? Is it going to be cleaned up?
Tom Juncker, Rockford

Dear Tom,
Do not be confused by what the Pacific Ocean garbage patch actually is. To call it a ” garbage patch” is misleading because that conveys an image of junk floating in the ocean. This is (mainly ) not the case. Actually, the patch consists mostly of tiny pieces of plastic –microplastics — practically invisible to the naked eye and mainly below the surface of the ocean. It does not consist of islands of floating trash, although a few  of these have been reported. The Pacific Ocean garbage patch is one of five such patches worldwide, and is the largest.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is comprised of the Western Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California.

Removing microplastics from the ocean is complicated because mircoplastics and tiny sea creatures are often the same size, so removing microplastics would lead to the accidental removal of those animals. For now, the best that can be done is to prevent additional plastic from entering the world’s oceans.