Uninhabited Island has 'World's Worst' Plastic Pollution

Henderson Island in the South Pacific is thousands of miles from any major industrial centers or human communities. But it's filled with trash — more than 37 million pieces of it researchers say

This mass, however, represents only "1.98 seconds' worth of the annual global production of plastic", researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

She estimates 3,570 new pieces of trash wash up on Henderson Island every single day on just one of the island's beaches.

Henderson Island, a British overseas territory and part of the Pitcairn Islands group, is just over 14 square miles in size and is more than 3,000 miles from the nearest major landmass, and yet is reported to swamped by at least 17 tonnes of plastic and other debris.

She estimates that there are almost 38 million pieces of plastic on and below the surface of the 14 square mile Henderson Island, weighing 17.6 tonnes.

The samples were taken at five sites on the island, from four inches below the surface.Researchers have not checked the cliffs or rocky coastline, which might lead them to warn that their report might underestimate the real scope of the problem. Cigarette lighters, light bulbs, cutlery, tooth brushes, pen lids and plastic buoys were also found. Scientists found all sorts of plastic debris on the island, from toy soldiers to the red motels from the Monopoly board game, according to the AP. It has some human history-a few generations of Polynesians, some explorers, the wreck of a whaler, visits from timber harvesters from Pitcairn Island-but nothing to suggest the tide of garbage all over it.

A once lovely uninhabited island, a sanctuary to multiple endangered species, is now revealed to be the most polluted place on Earth with 17 tons worth of plastic resting on its shores.

About 27 percent of the items were identifiable as being from South America, including beach equipment and fishing gear.

"Almost every island in the world and nearly every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste", she said.

The answer is that Henderson Island acts as a bit of a sink for the Pacific Ocean. Millions of pieces of floating plastic debris have washed up on its shoreline in greater volume than scientists have ever witnessed.

But now, researchers say it has earned a much more worrisome new title: the world's most polluted island. Lavers urges governments to stop wasting breath on the decades-old climate change debate and start taking action on the things we do know: Plastic is saturating the Earth and something has to be done now. About 55% of the world's seabird species, and a large number of marine organisms, are known to be at risk from plastic pollution, according to their study.

Lavers said that most of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced globally every year was not being recycled and was having a long-term impact on the world's oceans.

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