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Why the plastic waste in our oceans could triple within a decade

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Susan Devaney
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Scientists warn that plastic waste in the world’s oceans will triple within the next 10 years if we don’t clean up our act now.

Since the start of 2018, one thing’s come to the forefront: plastic is not fantastic.

From a diver’s video going viral of plastic floating in the Indian Ocean, to news that plastic particles the size of a human hair have been found in nearly every brand of bottled water, it’s fair to say the material is out of control.

Now, leading scientists have warned the government in a report that if action is not taken now to curb the issue then we’ll witness plastic waste trebling in the sea within the decade.

The researchers warned of people slipping into the danger of viewing our oceans as being “out of sight, out of mind”, and ultimately allowing the plastic to keep increasing.

And, with 12 million tonnes of plastic rubbish being dumped into the oceans every single year (according to Greenpeace UK), researchers have estimated that plastic waste in our seas will treble between 2015 and 2025. Unless, of course, we take action - and fast.

Researchers believe now is the time to change our attitudes of what goes on below the surface of the sea. 

“When people get to see what is in the ocean, and the Blue Planet series and so on have helped people to visualise it, and then I think their reaction is twofold: one is complete wonder at what is there, and in other cases complete horror at what we’re potentially doing to it,” says Professor Ed Hill, executive director of the National Oceanography Centre.

“It’s this sense of the unexplored world on our own planet, but also it’s important to us, we know less about the bottom of the sea than the moon or Mars, but nothing lives on the moon or Mars, but things live in our ocean and they’re vitally important to us.”

Mounting plastic waste on a beach in the UK

However, after the successful sea mission carried out by the submarine, Boaty McBoatface, to assess the level of melting ice in the Antarctica, there could be potential opportunities for future technologies. From robotics to artificial intelligence, technology could help in providing us with a better understanding of our seas.

In doing so, the oceans could provide new medicines, minerals and energy sources from our discoveries. 

In a bid to curb waste, the report concluded that efforts to reduce plastic should focus on preventing waste from entering the sea, introducing new biodegradable plastics and creating more public campaigns to raise awareness of the issue.

You can read more on how to reduce your own everyday waste here.

Images: Unsplash / Getty  

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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