Information from established beach litter protocols is insufficient to implement targeted, preventive management measures.  Complementary methodologies, named “Beach litter Deep Dives”, have been developed to get a better understanding of the sources of and behaviour behind littering.

Deep dives involve identifying the type, country of provenance and age of household, food, oil and chemical containers. Specific items associated with fishing activity are identified and an in-depth analysis of nets is conducted to document likely intentional discards.  The methods are adaptive and determined by the context and aim of the deep dive. A Professional Deep Dive’s aim is documentation, where trained professionals register information relevant for the research or management question of concern. Deep Dives with Experts invites people from relevant backgrounds that have knowledge on the sources of and behaviour behind litter found.  Experience illustrates their potential to provide valuable information that is directly relevant to managers and polluters to identify actions.  Click here (Mar Poll Bull, but open access).  Despite clearly focussing on plastic pollution in a wide sense, the title and abstract unfortunately perpetuates the misleading “litter” frame.

At any given time, 1,100 tons of microplastic are floating over the western USA and it’s falling out of the sky.  New modelling shows that 84% of airborne microplastics in the American West comes from the roads outside of major cities and a further 11% could be blowing in from the ocean.  Surprisingly, this new research shows there may be more microplastic blowing out of the ocean at any given time than there is going into it.  Perversely, so much has accumulated in the ocean that the land may now be a net importer of microplastic from the sea. “That’s really highlighting the role of legacy pollution,” says the co-lead author of the new paper in PNAS (abstract only, rest behind paywall). “The amount of plastics that are in our ocean is just overwhelming compared to anything that we produce in any given year in the terrestrial environment.”

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