Plastic Pollution is a major environmental issue and the latest study by Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies reveals facts that it's hard to digest. She studied the tiny Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean and discovered that there were millions of pieces of plastic on its beaches. These consisted of plastic flip-flops, toothbrushes, water bottles and hordes of single-use plastics. The island is an attractive Travel destination and one of the most remote places on Earth.

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The discovery of plastic highlights the growing menace of plastic pollution.

The Guardian reports that the study has pointed out the volume of debris which indicates the “exponential increase of global plastic polluting the world’s oceans.” This trend needs to be highlighted and given necessary importance and not ignored, especially in the context of single-use plastics. In the opinion of Jennifer Lavers, remote islands with low populations were the best indicator of the magnitude of the problem related to ocean plastic. The European Union will ban single-use plastics to save the environment.

1 million plastic flip flops washes up on Cocos Island, in Indian Ocean. [Image credit: Silke Stuckenbrock]
1 million plastic flip flops washes up on Cocos Island, in Indian Ocean. [Image credit: Silke Stuckenbrock]

The visible litter is much worse deeper down

The study carried out by Jennifer Lavers in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands discovered that the litter visible on the surface is negligible compared to what is buried beneath.

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Earlier surveys had underestimated the scale of the problem regarding the accumulation of debris. The plastic keeps flowing with the ocean currents and when it comes to rest in remote locations, the impact is felt. Lavers had already done a study of Henderson Island. It is in the South Pacific and the majority of the debris there was related to fish.

The Guardian says the report blames the situation on ineffective policy and waste management.

The result is the disturbance of the ecological balance with negative effects on marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. There are also fears of health issues due to coming in contact with plastic-associated chemicals. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a favorite with tourists and generates income opportunities for the locals. The amount of debris on the island of only 600 is mind-boggling. The researchers said, “it would take the local population about 4,000 years to generate the same amount of waste.”

About the islands in the Indian Ocean

According to ABC AU, the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean is an Australian external territory.

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It lies around 1300 miles (2,100km) off the coast of Exmouth. It is labeled as a tropical paradise getaway for international and Australian tourists alike who travel to enjoy the seas and what they have to offer. Dr. Jennifer Lavers and her team surveyed seven of the 27 islands that make up the territory. They account for most of the total land mass and their startling discovery was that most of the plastic waste was buried in the sand. Their report also says much of the trash was of identifiable objects like single-use plastics.

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