Maarten Vanden Eynde has been collecting plastics and other marine debris from various expeditions over time. the above image is 876 pounds of plastic from one expedition that was collected by the 5 Gyres project [http://www.5gyres.org/] in the North Atlantic over a period of 2 months.
it wasn’t until around April 2010 that it was widely recognized that there also is a massive garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean. even though it had previously been hypothesized, during April of last year there was a slew of articles that reported its existence. here is one from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stiv-j-wilson/atlantic-garbage-patch-ne_b_539468.html