Plastic waste, previously thought to be indestructible, has since been found to break down within a year of the trash hitting the sea water.
It is critical to wildlife and the oceans to remove as much plastic storm debris from our coastal areas as possible annually. For example, as Styrofoam starts to break down, the tiny polystyrene components starts to sink because they’re heavier than water. The entire water column then becomes contaminated with plastic chemicals.
Most storm debris consists of old treated lumber from washed away docks and piers. Old lumber was soaked in arsenic and treated with creosote to prevent organisms from feeding on the wood and rot from occurring. Old treated lumber slowly leeches its chemicals. Whenever a tidal flush occurs the leeched chemicals are spread to the surrounding areas causing a sharp population decrease in the number of oysters, shrimp and baby fish.
Currently most beaches and rivers adjacent to major cities are staging annual clean-ups through the use of volunteers and efforts organized by various non-profit groups. However, the areas most important to wildlife: the isolated beaches, bays, and estuaries are not being cleaned up. These are crucial birthing areas for endangered and threatened species. The constant accumulation and breakdown of plastics and storm debris in these critical areas builds up high toxicity levels, and kills generations of future wildlife.