The ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ sailing team taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race is shining a light on the problem of plastic waste.

Dee Caffari leads the team, which is backed by the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign.

“We are racing around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race to support the UN Environment’s ‘Clean Seas’ campaign with the ambition of raising awareness of the plastic pollution in our oceans,” Dee Caffari said in a statement.

The race began in Alicante in late October and will run for nine months.

And the team has already contributed to improved understanding of the scale of the problem. It has gathered data that scientists have used to detect millions of particles of plastics in Europe’s waters.

“Existing scientific data only accounts for around 1% of all plastic in the ocean – but thanks to the support of Volvo Ocean Race and Volvo Cars, and the efforts of the Turn the Tide on Plastic team in conducting this research, we’re building a knowledge base which is essential to ocean science around the globe,” said Dr Toste Tanhua works at GEOMAR, an ocean research institute in Kiel, Germany.

Follow the team’s progress on Twitter using hashtags  and  as they enter the early stages of Leg 3 in the Southern Ocean.