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Ocean Pollution: Plastic

Questions

  1. What is meant by ocean debris?
  2. How much debris winds up in the oceans each year?
  3. What is plastic? How is it made?
  4. Why is plastic trash a problem?

Lecture Notes

News Articles

Background Information

Demonstrations

  1. Making Nylon from Adipoyl chloride and hexane 1,6-diamine
  2. Homemade Plastic
  3. How Plastic Bags are Made
  4. How Toothbrushes are Made

Take Away (Main) Points

  1. Plastic debris is accumulating in the Pacific Ocean due to swirling water currents called gyres.
  2. The main types of plastic are polymers with bonds that resist breaking down and may last for hundreds of years.
  3. Some types of plastic may be recycled.
  4. 80% of the plastic in the ocean originates on land.
  5. Plastic has been found tangled around animals and inside them.
  6. Humans make and use plastic.
  7. Plastic is made from starting materials that are from the processing of petroleum products.
  8. Biodegradable plastics do exist but they are relatively new on the market.

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