Throughout the world’s oceans lurks a silent killer. It will outlive us, outswim us, and threatens to undo us. The predator is plastic and it’s floating in an ocean near you.
We’ve all seen plastic bottles in our creeks, bays and harbours, or uncovered a grocery bag in the sand at the beach. They’re adding up to one big problem for our seas. Our ocean is becoming a plastic soup and our sea life is choking on the contents.
Millions of tonnes of rubbish enter the world’s oceans each year. This plastic pollution rides the ocean’s currents and reaches the furthest corners of our seas. Plastic is now even in the Antarctic wilderness.
Unlike naturally-based paper or glass, plastic never truly goes away; it just breaks down into smaller pieces. That means that every piece of plastic you and I have ever used is still around today. The vast majority of the plastics in our seas come from our urban areas, from our streets.
- Almost 90% of the marine debris found on Sydney’s beaches is plastic, mostly bottles, caps and straws.
- Australians buy 600 million litres of bottled water a year.
- We use 10 million plastic bags a day (that's 3.9 billion plastic bags a year)!
This is a global problem, with a truly local solution. We can turn our plastic addiction around. Plastic packaging is a recent craze - a fast fix. It’s unnecessary, unsustainable and must become unacceptable. We must change our habits and break the deadly cycle.
Marine debris - from our homes to their plates
Plastic pollution travels easily from land to sea. It blows in from bins and garbage dumps, or flows through stormwater drains into our waterways and eventually the sea. Once in the ocean, it slowly breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces which are eaten by animals at the bottom of our food chains.
Larger pieces of plastic floating at the surface are readily mistaken for food by seabirds and turtles, while plastic bags and fishing lines can wrap around marine life and kill them. Seabirds and marine mammals are killed every year by plastics, either entangled and strangled or choked and starved.
AMCS is working with a range of organisations to tackle marine debris. We’re educating the public and equipping groups with the knowledge and skills to rescue sick and tangled marine animals and conduct scientific marine debris surveys.
What about microplastics?
Our friends at Flora & Fauna International and Surfrider have produced this handy little guide on microbeads, covering cosmetic and personal care products such as facial exfoliators, body scrubs and toothpastes. Check it out
Give Frank a Break
Comic genius Frank Woodley has teamed up with AMCS to help save our oceans from plastic pollution. Check out how you can help Give Frank a Break here.