An inconspicuous pollutant is slowly accumulating in the oceans and on the beaches of the world – synthetic lint. A fleece sweater may shed 2000 polyester fibres in a single wash and it is these plastic fibres that are making their way through sewage systems and into oceans.
The presence of plastic in the ocean is not new (e.g. great pacific garbage patch), however few researchers considered the global significance. Testing beach sands from around the world researchers were unable to find a single pristine plastic free beach.
Where plastics become a particular concern is when they enter the food chain – at which point plastics return full circle and may become a detriment to humans.
The prevalence of plastics in the environment is increasing. Government may wish to consider ways to limit plastic waste whether it is via increased recycling, re-use or simply reduction. Attention may also be directed towards the impacts of ocean plastics on the marine environment and their subsequent endpoint in the food chain.