Ocean Pollution and Ocean Polluters

Posted In Articles & Dossiers, Pollution
Oct
22

By Bekah Barlow

Did you know that it’s legal to dump trash in the ocean? Yes, there are limitations for what you can and cannot dump. But it is perfectly acceptable to dump your raw sewage, paper, rags, glass, metal, bottles, or similar refuse, as long as you are at least 12 miles away from the nearest shoreline. It is not permissible to dump plastics anywhere.

Learn the regulations are for proper garbage disposal at sea.

Just how long will your trash last at sea?

Paper towel 2-4 weeks
Orange or banana peel 2-5 weeks
Newspaper 6 weeks
Apple core 2 months
Waxed milk carton 3 months
Plywood 1-3 years
Wool sock 1-5 years
Cigarette filter 1-50 years
Plastic Bag (at least) 10-20 years
Plastic film canister 20-30 years
Nylon Fabric 30-40 years
Leather 50 years
Tin can 50 years
Foamed plastic cup 50 years
Rubber boat sole 50-80 years
Foamed plastic buoy 80 years
Aluminum can 80-200 years
Disposable diapers 450 years
Plastic beverage bottles 450 years
Monofilament fishing line 600 years
Glass Bottle 1,000,000 years

* Quoted in U.S National Park Service; Mote Marine Lab, FL and “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” Audobon Magazine, Spt/Oct 1998.  from “Pocket Guide to Marine Debris,” The Ocean Conservancy, 2004

When it comes to cruise ships, this trash can add up. An average-sized cruise ship would house 3,000 passengers and crew. The largest cruise ships can have up to 5,000 passengers and crew. Of these cruise ships:

  • One average-sized cruise ship dumps about 30,000 gallons of human waste into the oceans each day. If that cruise ship is within three miles of a U.S. shoreline, the sewage must be treated, but if they are outside of three miles, they can dump raw, untreated sewage into the oceans.
  • In addition to the 30,000 gallons of sewage, each cruise ship dumps, on average, 255,000 gallons of gray water per day. Gray water includes water used for showers, laundry services, and dishwashing, and will contain soap and chemicals, even toxic chemicals used for photo-processing and dry-cleaning!
  • An average cruise ship will produce seven tons of garbage and solid waste every day! In a year, approximately 15 billion pounds of garbage is dumped into the oceans.
  • The pollution produced by the emissions of one cruise ship in one day equals that of about 12,000 automobiles.

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