As the world population, economy and consumption grows, a complex and multi-dimensional approach is needed to manage a rising tide of solid waste, researchers say in a study published in the journal Waste Management.
The research is by Lilliana Abarca-Guerrero, now at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, along with colleagues at the Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands and Linnaeus University, Sweden.
Large quantities of plastic debris are building up in the Mediterranean Sea, say scientists. A survey found around one thousand tonnes of plastic floating on the surface, mainly fragments of bottles, bags and wrappings.
The Mediterranean Sea's biological richness and economic importance means plastic pollution is particularly hazardous, say Spanish researchers.
Plastic has been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, turtles and whales.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program, in partnership with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, published a report today that assesses the current state of science on “ghost fishing” and the derelict fishing gear that causes it.
Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.
"Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater," says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
"If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic," Dr Hoogenboom says.
A landmark study, published in the journal Science on Thursday 13 February, reveals just how much plastic makes its way in the world's oceans and the top countries responsible for the ocean-bound trash.
About 8 million tons of plastic waste wound up in the world's oceans in 2010, and researchers warn that the cumulative amount could increase more than tenfold in the next decade unless the international community improves its waste management practices.