A newly released study by scientific researchers finds that the problem of plastic in the ocean is worse than previously believed. The new highly extensive study published last month found that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing some 269,000 tons have now inundated the oceans, reaching into even the remotest areas.

The ships doing the research traveled far more widely than in past studies, collected more samples and used more advanced computer models to analyze the data. The conclusion confirms what has already been known: that the world's oceans are full of plastic but that the new research indicates that the plastic has expanded and dispersed to a much greater degree than previously believed.

The study also examined how the plastic bottles, bags, toys and vast amount of other floating plastic gathers at "gyres," where ocean currents come together into a massive circular eddy that traps the plastic. At those ocean gyres, the garbage is smashed together by wave action after becoming brittle in the sun. Once the plastic is shredded into pieces as small as grains of sand, it can spread widely.