First described in a 1988 paper published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (more accurately described as a “gyre”) is among several that have been building up since the 1980s.
There are many misconceptions about the concentration of plastic in the ocean between California and Hawaii; the report above, from CBS’ 60 Minutes, clears up many of them.
In 2015, a study established that the the main sources of the Patch are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
According to Wikipedia’s entry on the Patch, it was “formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by ocean currents. It occupies a relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bounded by the North Pacific Gyre in the horse latitudes. The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific, incorporating coastal waters off North America and Japan. As the material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move debris toward the center, trapping it.”