By Steve Connor
- Published on July 13, 2014 by the Independent
Pollution of the oceans by tiny pieces of plastic debris is now so widespread that only radical action to eliminate the waste at source can limit further damage to marine wildlife, according to scientists.
Microplastics, which can range in size from being invisible to the naked eye to just a few millimetres in diameter, are now turning up in all the world's major oceans including the Arctic and Antarctic, and it is no longer feasible to think it may be possible to simply "clear up the mess", researchers add.
Most people are aware of the visible plastic pollution such as discarded bottles and other waste items washed up on beaches, but it is the invisible plastics that are likely to pose the bigger risks to animals and plants, say marine scientists Karen Lavender Law and Richard Thompson. And they warn that the problems will only get worse unless drastic action is taken to curb the sale of disposable plastic products worldwide and dispel the idea that plastic waste can be just thrown away.