Break up or break down

Although it is commonly expressed that plastic breaks down” in marine environments, this falsely implies that the plastic is able to decompose. This is why scientists prefer to say that plastic breaks up into pieces” in marine environments, which more accurately portrays the reality. When a plastic fragment breaks up into pieces, it eventually turns into microplastic particles. Despite decreasing in size, microplastics are still very harmful (see definition for microplastics).