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May 17, 2019
2:29PM

414 million pieces of plastic found on remote islands

AFP
A recent survey on plastic pollution found an estimated 414 million pieces of plastic including nearly one million shoes and 370,000 toothbrushes on the beaches of remote Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean. 

The survey published in the journal, Scientific Reports, estimated that the beaches on the islands are littered with 238 tonnes of plastic.

Jennifer Lavers from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania in Australia said, remote islands which do not have large human populations depositing rubbish nearby are an indicator of the amount of plastic debris circulating in the world's oceans.


Her research in 2017 revealed that beaches on remote Henderson Island in the South Pacific had the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere on Earth.

Study co-author Annett Finger from Victoria University said global production of plastic continues to increase, with almost half of the plastic produced over the past 60-years manufactured in the last 13 years.

Finger said, as a result of the growth in single-use consumer plastics, it's estimated there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of ocean plastic debris. Researchers said, the scale of the problem means cleaning up our oceans is currently not possible, and cleaning beaches, once they are polluted with plastic, is time consuming, costly, and needs to be regularly repeated as thousands of new pieces of plastic wash up each day.

Finger said the only viable solution is to reduce plastic production and consumption while improving waste management to stop this material entering our oceans in the first place.

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