The Sixth Continent: The Pacific Trash Vortex

The sixth continent is a real and dramatic reality. An ocean transformed into the largest landfill in the world. It is called the sixth continent because we are talking about an unimaginable extension, over 2500 km in diameter, an average depth of 30 meters and more than 100,000 tons of plastic waste, from wine bottle plastic protection to polystyrene wine box, divided into two “islands” that are concentrated near Japan and the west of Hawaii.

To make a comparison you can imagine it as a continent the size of Canada. It is certainly the most serious human act of pollution in history.

But what is the origin of this colossal disaster also called Pacific Trash Vortex? There is no full certainty, but the most reliable theories would trace its formation around the middle of the last century.

The sixth continent is composed of two distinct islands located in the middle of the Pacific

It is formed at 80% from poorly biodegradable plastic that floats a few meters deep until it reaches tens of meters below the water mirror. This feature makes it virtually invisible to satellites. The mass of the various waste is subject to a continuous remixing due to the vortex of the North Pacific “the Gyre“, one of the most powerful circular oceanic currents, equipped with a particular spiral movement in a clockwise direction that allows the plastic waste particles to join each other, forming a deadly cocktail of which the molluscs feed, entering directly into the food chain that goes from fish, dolphins, turtles, sea birds.

The situation is very serious because biodegradable waste is disposed there, ie biodegraded (biodegradation is the degradation of a material – regardless of whether it is of natural or synthetic origin – through enzymatic processes, generally due to the action of bacteria, fungi or others microorganisms.) Instead, the plastic degrades through a process that literally pulverizes it into smaller and smaller pieces, up to the exact dimensions of the polymers that compose it. At this stage of size the tiny plastic particles  from wine bottle plastic packaging for example are then devoured by marine animals as if they were plankton, thus entering the food chain and coming indirectly to us on our tables.

And this is definitely a serious problem, feeding on fish that have “taken on” plastic actually enter our bodies with the danger of releasing PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) from the plastic: these particles cause damage to the endocrine system, the glands necessary for the sex hormone formation.

Greater awareness is therefore needed on the use of all packaging, especially bottle packaging, with the significant reduction in the use of plastic. It is a commitment to be pursued on several fronts at the level of nations, companies but also on a personal level. Each of us can reduce our impact on the production of plastic, not only through separate collection, but above all upstream of the entire logistics chain by choosing to use only the most natural and eco-friendly packaging where there is greater use of paper and cardboard.

The use of Nakpack instead of the classic boxes in polystyrene avoids the introduction every year of over 325,000 kg of polystyrene in the environment. Definitely a strong impact for the environment! The paper of our packaging once used and disposed of in separate collection will give life to other packaging again. The environment is definitely thanking that bottle package.

Do you also want to help safeguard the environment by using our Nakpack products to ship bottles of wine, beer & olive oil? Ask for more information or the pricing list right now.

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