Life in plastic, not fantastic: reducing waste in our oceans

By Nikki Galovic

2 August 2019

3 minute read

Plastic cup and other waste washed up on shoreline

This July saw millions of people get involved in Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July is a global movement that encourages people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.

More than 8.3 million tonnes of rubbish finds its way to our oceans each year. A million tonnes of this stays in the ocean. The rest of it finds its way onto shores all over the world. This rubbish comes from both land and sea-based sources and can travel immense distances.

We could wax lyrical about all the ways that rubbish in our oceans negatively impacts coral reefs, wildlife and human health. But we’d prefer to tell you what we’re doing about it. And what you can do to help.

How can we solve the ocean plastic crisis?

Our researchers are investigating the relationship between humans and our environment. Our focus is on sources and amounts of plastics around Australia and the world.

We’ve worked with schools, communities, industry groups and government to address everyone’s role in solving this problem.

The world’s largest plastic pollution survey

We’re taking on the world’s largest plastic pollution survey. We’re working with countries across the globe to apply science to reduce the amount of litter entering our oceans.

To date, the best estimates say there are around 6-12 million metric tonnes of plastic going into the oceans each year. That works out to be around 15 shopping bags of plastic for each metre of global coastline (excluding Antarctica).

What can be done?

Every piece of plastic in our oceans started in someone’s hand. By gathering the information needed to identify sources and hotspots of debris, we can better develop effective solutions to tackle it.

Working together, scientists, industry, government and citizen scientists can make significant strides to reduce the impact in coastal areas and in the marine environment.

We’ve developed an online national marine debris database. Here you can contribute data you collect about litter at your local beach.

More tips for reducing your impact

Together, we can contribute to the improved understanding of the types, amounts and sources of debris that arrives on Australia’s coastline. And reducing the amount of plastic we use is a good way to start!

We asked our CSIRO Waste Warriors for their best tips to reduce single-use plastic waste. Here’s what they said:

Have a tip of your own? Share your waste-free wisdom by leaving a comment below.