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414 million plastic pieces found on Indian Ocean islands: Study

MELBOURNE: An estimated 414 million pieces of plastic - including just about 1,000,000 shoes and 370,000 toothbrushes - had been discovered washed ashore on the seashores of far off Cocos (Keeling) Islands within the Indian Ocean, consistent with a study.

The survey of plastic pollution, revealed within the magazine Scientific Reports, estimated that the seashores on the islands are suffering from 238 tonnes of plastic.

Remote islands which shouldn't have massive human populations depositing rubbish close by are a trademark of the amount of plastic particles circulating on this planet's oceans, said Jennifer Lavers from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) on the University of Tasmania in Australia.

"Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine and it's increasingly urgent that we act on the warnings they are giving us," Lavers said.

Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and far off islands are an excellent place to get an objective view of the quantity of plastic particles now circling the globe, researchers said.

"Our estimate of 414 million pieces weighing 238 tonnes on Cocos (Keeling) is conservative, as we only sampled down to a depth of 10 centimetres and couldn't access some beaches that are known debris 'hotspots'," said Lavers.

Her analysis in 2017 published that seashores on far off Henderson Island within the South Pacific had the best possible density of plastic particles reported any place on Earth.

While the density of plastic particles on Cocos (Keeling) Islands seashores is not up to on Henderson Island, the overall quantity dwarfs the 38 million pieces weighing 17 tonnes discovered on the Pacific island.

"Unlike Henderson Island, where most identifiable debris was fishing-related, the plastic on Cocos (Keeling) was largely single-use consumer items such as bottle caps and straws, as well as a large number of shoes and thongs," Lavers said.

Study co-author Annett Finger from Victoria University said world manufacturing of plastic continues to extend, with nearly half of the plastic produced during the last 60-years manufactured within the last 13 years.

"An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic entered our oceans in 2010 alone, with around 40 per cent of plastics entering the waste stream in the same year they're produced," 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," said Finger.

Plastic pollution is a well-documented risk to natural world and its attainable affect on people is a growing space of clinical analysis.

The scale of the issue approach cleaning up our oceans is recently now not possible, and cleaning seashores once they're polluted with plastic is time eating, expensive, and must be ceaselessly repeated as 1000's of recent pieces of plastic wash up on a daily basis, researchers 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," Finger said.

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