Plastic Pollution in the World’s Most Remote Places
From the highest top of the mountain, to the lowest ground of the sea, scientists have found alarming amounts of plastic and microplastic - even in locations which are impossible for us humans to reach. Plastic, a substance that is found all over the globe, in every corner of the earth.
Plastic waste – not only a severe problem in distant venues like on the top of the world’s highest mountain. A tiny island, considered one of the most remote pieces of land on the planet, is struggling with huge amounts of waste. Henderson Island the largest of four, forming the Pitcairn Islands group. An uninhabited gem located between Australia and Chile in the eastern South Pacific, with no cities or industry within a radius of 5.000 kilometres. Its beautiful white beaches, covered with palm trees, wild nature and remarkable biological diversity made Henderson Island become part of the UNESCO world heritage in 1988.
An apparently untouched heavenly piece of earth, miles away from civilisation and still scientists believe the island to have the highest concentration of plastic waste in the world. Over 38 Million pieces of plastic trash are covering its beaches, weighing more than 17 tons, numbers that are increasing every day. These are the research results of Jennifer Lavers, from Tasmania University and Alexander Bond, British Royal Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Their study focused on the examination of pieces of plastic found on the sand’s surface as well as within 10 centimetres of depth. Within the size of one square meter, the scientists counted upon 670 pieces of plastic covering the sand’s surface. Numbers became even higher, going deeper under the surface: upon 4.550 pieces of plastic per square meter were located, most of them smaller than 5 millimetres. More than 68 percent of waste was hidden within the sand. Excluding microplastic particles (fragments smaller than 5mm) and without going further than 10 centimetres, it is needless to say what the results would look like if these parameters would have been included. Apart from fishing equipment, like nets or buoys, the garbage mainly consisted in objects like toothbrushes, drinking straws and cutlery.
Carried to the sea by streams, rivers or canals, once plastic has made its way into the ocean, it starts a journey travelling broad distances around the world, reaching the most isolated places. Henderson Island is located within the powerful South Pacific Gyre, a current known for containing and distributing waste. According to the research results, plastic trash from all over the world was found, though mainly deriving from Asia and South America. Scientists believe there are many more islands in similar conditions. The amount of plastic waste that was found on Henderson Island - 17.6 tons of plastic - is the same quantity produced on a worldwide level every 2 seconds. If the use of plastic items is not going to decrease drastically, the situation of world’s hidden gems is unlikely to change.