Mapping Out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Aaron Foyer
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The largest accumulation of plastic in the ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), is located between Hawaii and California. It’s mostly the result of substantial plastic sources from Asia, as well as intensified fishing activity in the Pacific Ocean.

The GPGP spans 1.6 million square kilometers. It’s nearly two times the size of Texas. Its total plastic mass is equivalent to 500 jumbo jets. More than half of all plastic in the GPGP is considered megaplastics which are greater than 50 centimeters in size and more than 80% is 5 centimeters or greater.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, fishing equipment, not single-use plastics dominate, represent the majority of the GPGP plastic mass. According to a study published in Nature on the languages found on the plastic debris, more than three quarters were from Asian countries.

A reduction in our seafood intake may be the greatest way to reduce plastic in the oceans and in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to ensure thriving ocean ecosystems.


GPGP – Great Pacific Garbage Patch

cm – Centimeter

km2 – Squared kilometer