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Plastics Impact our Fisheries and Never Fully Break Down

Though plastic was only popularized in the last hundred years, we are already seeing the dramatic impact it has on our critical ecosystems and countless species. In fact, it is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year… But what happens to these items over time? BTT selected a few items commonly used on fishing trips and beach excursions and collected their breakdown times as shown below.

  • Plastic Water Bottle: 450 to 1,000 years (and bottle caps can take up to 500 years!)
  • Styrofoam Cooler: 500+ years, depending on size
  • Monofilament Fishing Line: 600 years (Always make sure to properly dispose of old line and line clippings.)
  • Plastic Sandwich Baggie: 500 to 1,000 years (This kind of plastic needs light to breakdown, so depending on where it is in the ocean, it may never breakdown at all.)
  • Plastic Sunscreen Bottle: 500 to 1,000 years

It’s important to remember that while these long lengths of time are difficult to conceptualize, they only outline the time it takes for plastic to transition into harmful microplastics. Because plastic is not biodegradable, it will never fully break down, meaning that the plastic bottle you saw floating in the water will stay there forever unless properly removed and disposed of! Try to stick to reusable materials, like those listed on our blog  “5 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use,” and pick up litter when you see it to help keep our oceans clean and our fish healthy!