There once was a great future in plastics, but their waste is weighing that future down. Scraps and bit cumulatively reaching more than 250,000 tons end up in the ocean, and even the smallest particles cause trouble as they clog corals. Eventually some of the six billion tons of plastic manufactured since the mid-20th century becomes a sort of stone, an aggregate of bound plastic and rocks.
Scientists still aren’t sure how so much plastic ends up in the ocean, but they do know where much of it starts. Elizabeth Grossman visited a small farm owned by Kara Gilbert to track down agricultural plastics. She reports for Ensia: