Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

Plastic Debris On Remote Beaches is Even Worse Than We Thought

By Lacy SchleyAugust 7, 2019 5:00 PM
Plastic Trash on Beach - Wikimedia Commons
(Credit: epSos.de/Wikimedia Commons)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Humans have a trash problem. For years, researchers have warned that our wasteful ways have been clogging up the planet, even in places where we aren’t, like remote islands. Now, a new study in Scientific Reports says the problem is even worse than we thought. Previous surveys of debris in these isolated areas have mostly focused on what was visible at the surface. However, the new research, which focused on both inhabited and uninhabited islands that make up Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands, reports that the problem goes deeper than that — literally.

Plastic Infograph - Mackey/Discover
(Image Credit: Pixelschoen/Shutterstock. Infograph: Alison Mackey/Discover)

Trashy Top 10 (by Number of Pieces Found)

1. Unidentifiable plastic fragments: 16,106 

2. Food packaging (e.g., candy and Popsicle wrappers, polystyrene clamshells): 1,158

3. Nurdles (pellets of raw material used in plastic production): 891

4. Bottle caps and lids: 840

5. Shoes: 549

6. Plastic bags/plastic bag bits: 367

7. Rope pieces: 297

8. Drinking straws: 235

9. Cotton swabs: 206

10. Plastic bottles: 145


Source: “Significant plastic accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia,” Scientific Reports, 2019


[This story originally appeared in print as "Out of Our Depth."]

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In