Study finds plastic waste in deep sea still like new after 20 years





Hamburg - Scientists have found a 20-year-old plastic container for a dairy product and a similar old plastic bag in the deep sea - and both were as new despite the two decades they had spent in the water.



"Neither the bag nor the quark package showed signs of fragmentation or even degradation in its components," said biochemist Stefan Krause from the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Oceanic Research in the northern German city of Kiel.
The find, on which a team led by Krause reports in the scientific journal Nature, offers evidence for the first time about the fate of plastic on the deep seabed.
There has hardly been any long-term data on the mining of plastic waste on the sea floor at a depth of more than 4,000 metres because the plastics found can rarely be dated.
In this case the researchers were helped by chance, while the rest was detective work: The rubbish bag contained a special edition Coca-Cola can for the 1988 Davis Cup, and the quark container from a German manufacturer showed a five-digit postal code that has only been around since 1990.
In addition, the manufacturer was bought out in 1999 after which the brand name disappeared.
German researchers had probably left behind the rubbish between 1989 and 1996 when they were researching the effects of potential mining of manganese nodules in the area, about 800 kilometres off the coast of Peru.

 


Monday, June 15th 2020
(dpa)
           


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