20191213_Microplastic_Sources_IBT This chart shows a distribution of sources of microplastics in the world's oceans. Photo: Statista / IBT

The problem of microplastics in the planet's oceans and waterways has been brought to light through a number of alarming studies and reports over the past few years. That they are essentially everywhere has been made quite plain. But where are they coming from, and what can be done to reduce or eliminate their further dissemination? A 'global evaluation of sources' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature revealed that the biggest source of microplastics in the world's oceans are synthetic textiles.

As we covered with an earlier infographic, one washing machine load of clothes made from acrylic can release an estimated 730 thousand fibres into the waste water system. As this chart shows, they are then making their way into the environment in great number. The research estimates that over one third of microplastics floating in our oceans came from synthetic fabrics. Car tires are the second biggest source, with 28 percent a consequence of their erosion while driving. The good news there at least, is that we as individuals have some control over both of the top sources - through buying less or no clothes made from synthetic fibres and using the car less frequently.