According to a new study by Nature Sustainability, takeout food and containers are the worst offenders when it comes to plastic pollution in our oceans.
According to The Guardian, single-use bags, plastic bottles, food containers, and food wrappers are the four most widespread items polluting the seas, making up almost half of the human-made waste.
“It was shocking to find out that bags, bottles, food containers, and cutlery together with wrappers account for almost half of the human-made objects on a global scale. We found them in rivers, on the deep seabed, on shorelines, and floating off our coasts,” says study leader Dr. Carmen Morales of the University of Cadiz, Spain.
Only 10 plastic products make up 75% of the oceans’ litter, the scientists found, due to the volume in which they are used and their slow degradation periods. The list also includes plastic lids and fishing gear, which are also huge plastic polluters, reports EcoWatch.
“This information will make it easier for policymakers to actually take action to try to turn off the tap of marine litter flowing into the ocean, rather than just clean it up,” says Morales.
Over the last few years, a big focus has been on ditching the plastic straw to help with plastic pollution. Now it is time to focus on an even bigger culprit.
The researchers have outlined three possible strategies to combat the takeout plastic problem, including utilizing degradable materials in takeout containers, creating regulatory bans on avoidable plastics, and encouraging deposit-refund plans to encourage consumers to return takeout containers, writes Audrey Nakagawa at EcoWatch.