Plastic products found at sea range from common domestic material (bags, Styrofoam cups, bottles, balloons), industrial products (strapping bands, plastic sheeting, hard hats) and lost or discarded fishing gear (nets, buoys, traps, lines). Thus, they can come from a variety of land and ocean based sources, enter the water and impact the ocean ecosystem.

UN says that plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism as well as time spent cleaning beaches.