Rarely has a global environmental issue aroused public and political concern more rapidly than plastic pollution of the oceans. Images of littered beaches on once idyllic islands — and sea creatures entangled in lethal debris or poisoned by plastic pieces mistaken for morsels of food — are forcing governments and companies into overdue action to reduce the estimated 8-million tonnes of waste plastic that find their way into the oceans every year. So too is alarm about the almost invisible threat of tiny microplastic particles and fibres, resulting mainly from the disintegration of larger items, which may pose a toxic time bomb for marine life and eventually humans too. This drive for action must be intensified. The threat to our oceans is too great to release the political pressure even if plastic pollution falls out of the news. Unfortunately it will not be practical for the foreseeable future to remove more than a small fraction of the trillions of plastic pieces in all shapes and...

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