Production of plastic and its entry into our lives began from the 1950s but there is very little information on its global distribution. Therefore, experts from the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth undertook a study based on data obtained from the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR). This is an instrument used to carry out plankton sampling and it has been collecting data since 1957 in the North Atlantic and adjacent seas. It has been towed over millions of miles and has recorded some of the earliest instances of ocean plastics like bags, rope, and netting in the ocean.

Daily Mail UK reports researchers studied details of plastic entanglement from 1957 to 2016 and found that the increase is significant since the 1990s. The authors have pointed out that the pollutants and population are interlinked and as the global population grows, so will plastic waste. They have emphasized the need to reeducate the people and raise awareness about the ills of ocean plastics. England wants to discourage the use of plastic bags by levying a nominal charge for such bags.

Brief findings of the study

The exact point of time when plastic entered our lives and became indispensable is lost in history but one can make a rough guess and link it with the growth of the fast food culture and associated single-use plastics.

These were easy to handle, came cheap because they were produced in bulk but were threats to the Environment. This was because of their non-biodegradable properties. When they finally end up in the oceans, they threaten marine lives. There have been cases of whales washed up on the beaches with plastic in their stomachs.

Daily Mail UK adds that the study discovered the first instance of ocean plastic to be that of a trawl twine, off the east coast of Iceland in 1957.

Then came a plastic bag in 1965 of the Northwest of Ireland. Gradually, the occurrences became more frequent and soared to around ten times from 2000 onward. Most of the items were related to fishing like netting. The observation is that the number of entanglement on the CPR was maximum in the southern North Sea.

We must get tough on plastics

According to CNN, plastic waste is a major environmental challenge. It is a sort of pollution that can be dangerous to wildlife, the ocean itself and could even extend to humans. The amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean is on the rise and the situation could deteriorate unless there are suitable actions taken.

Ocean currents break down plastic items like bottles, toothbrushes and shopping bags into smaller pieces that convert into microplastics from exposure to ultraviolet light. These microplastics are health hazards for marine lives. The situation is grave because global production of plastic has gone up four times in the last four decades.