The United Nations Environment Program has now released the first study of the impact of marine debris throughout the world’s oceans. The report found that plastic, especially bags and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, makes up more than 80 per cent of all rubbish found in the oceans. The UN report, titled “Marine Litter: a Global Challenge”, also found that plastic bags alone constitute almost 10 percent of the rubbish.

Some of the litter, like thin-film, single-use plastic bags, which choke marine life, should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere because there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them any more, anywhere,” says UN environment program executive director Achim Steiner.

The United Nations are not the only ones worried about the enormous amounts of plastic entering our marine ecosystems each year. In Australia, plastic bags and other marine debris are a direct threat to 20 marine species according to the Federal Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee who has listed plastic bags as a “key threatening process” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Marine animals threatened by our reckless use of plastics include iconic creatures like the Blue whale, Loggerhead turtle, and Tristan albatross.