Plastic Debris in the Marine Environment: History and Future Challenges

Date of publication 22 June 2020

Authors Napper, Imogen Ellen; Thompson, Richard C.

Sources Global Challenges : 4 (DocId: 6) 1900081 (2020).



The success of plastic as a material has shaped the development of modern society and challenged older materials in many of their established uses. However, plastic is now a major component of litter and is extensively reported within the marine environment. Impacts from plastic debris have been identified as a major global conservation issue with implications for maritime industries, tourism, marine life, and human health. Although there are many benefits of plastic, it is clear that society’s relationship and reliance on plastics needs to be addressed. Conversely, alternative materials to replace plastic items, or solutions mitigating plastic release, also need to be critiqued to make sure their properties and environmental impacts are more beneficial. This review examines the history and impact of plastics in the marine environment. Current solutions that aim to mitigate plastics accumulation in the environment and the future challenges of plastic as a material are also discussed.

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