There are many different terms used today to describe plastic in and near the marine environment. There is no “correct” answer. The problem is enormous in scale, 100s of millions of tonnes wasted annually, and 10s of millions of tons flowing into the ocean. Ocean plastic includes all mismanaged plastic waste at risk of entering the ocean. This material may have already reached the ocean, or be on beaches, or in waterways. Oceanworks uses the four sub-categories of ocean plastic below.
- Offshore: Material far from shore accumulated floating “gyres.”
- Nearshore: Material suspended in the shallow areas of the ocean that are close to shore. This category also includes fishing net recovery and intervention programs.
- Coastal: Material that has washed up onto beaches and coastlines.
- Waterway: Material in streams, rivers and other waterways flowing towards the ocean.