Marine Litter: are there solutions to this global environmental problem?
Marine debris is a growing environmental problem. It is widely distributed at the sea surface, on the sea bed and on shorelines. Around 75% of this litter is plastic, with other materials such as glass and metal representing only a small proportion of litter in the oceans. Nearly 700 species are known to encounter marine litter, with many reports of physical harm resulting from entanglement in and ingestion of plastic.
It is widely acknowledged that plastic litter does not belong in the ocean. It is also clear that the numerous societal benefits that are derived from everyday use of plastics can be achieved without the need for emissions of plastic waste to the environment. Around 8% of world oil production is currently used to make plastic items and there is recognition that we need to change the way we produce, use and dispose of plastic items. In this regard a solution to two major environmental problems, our non-sustainable use of fossil carbon (to produce plastics) and the accumulation marine litter probably lie in utilizing end-of-life plastics as a raw material for new production.