A new study aims to reveal the full extent of plastic pollution in the ocean around Iceland, RÚV reports. It is being undertaken by the marine biotechnology company BioPol, which is based in the village of Skagaströnd in Northwest Iceland.
The study, which began in April, was inspired when an employee chanced to notice unusual filaments of many different colors in the ocean during routine sampling. When it was discovered that these filaments were tiny threads of plastic, the company decided to start counting them.
BioPol’s executive director Halldór G. Ólafsson collects samples from the sea around Skagaströnd every week. He collects the samples using an extremely fine mesh net that is able to reach a depth of up to 20 meters [65.6 feet]. Once the samples have been collected, they’re sent to BioPol’s research lab, where biochemist Karin Zech separates and counts the filaments. The project is still in its initial phases, but the company hopes to expand it, possibly in collaboration with other research facilities conducting similar studies, either within Iceland or abroad. The quantity of plastic in each sample varies greatly, but Karin says that most of it is from household waste.
“Plastic pollution in the ocean is not just other nations’ problem,” remarked Halldór. “It’s ours, too, and so we need to start to change the way we think about the use of plastic and what’s ending up in the ocean.”