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Remote island's beaches littered with 37 million pieces of plastic

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An estimated 37.7 million pieces of plastic are littering the beaches of a remote British-controlled South Pacific island, reported Sky News (UK).

Scientists say plastic pollution on Henderson Island is worse than anywhere in the world.
The uninhabited island, which is part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands, has an average of 671 pieces of plastic on every square metre of beach.
Henderson Island was designated a World Heritage Site in 1988 because of its well preserved coral atolls.

But it is near the centre of what is known as the South Pacific Gyre - the circular ocean current that picks up and carries manmade debris dumped in the sea.

The University of Tasmania's Dr Jennifer Lavers, who led study, said: "Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale.

"Based on our sampling at five sites we estimated that more than 17 tonnes of plastic debris has been deposited on the island, with more than 3,570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone.

"It's likely that our data actually underestimates the true amount of debris on Henderson Island as we were only able to sample pieces bigger than two millimetres (5/64 in) down to a depth of 10 centimetres (4 in), and we were unable to sample along cliffs and rocky coastline."

Sky News reported last month, as part of our Ocean Rescue campaign, that the amount of plastic washing up on beaches around the world could be underestimated by up to 80%.

Dr Lavers' sister study in Australia's Cocos Keeling Islands had found that existing estimates of the amount of plastic on beaches was based on surveys using material that was visible to researchers.
Sky News has been urging families to examine how much plastic they use in their lives and whether they can cut as much of it out as possible.

Over the next 30 years, annual production of plastic is predicted to soar to 1.8 billion tonnes - the same weight as almost 250,000 Eiffel Towers.
It means that by 2050, the plastic in the world's oceans will weigh more than all the fish, according to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

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