While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic — with severe environmental consequences. Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away. Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.
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<p>ENDANGERED SPECIES RESEARCH
Endang Species Res
Vol. 25: 225247, 2014
Published online October 17
As a material, plastic has existed for just over a cen-
tury (Gorman 1993), and mass production began in
earnest in the 1950s (Beall 2009). By 1988, 30 million
tons of plastic products were produced annually
(O'Hara et al. 1988), reaching 265 million tons by
2010 (PEMRG 2011) and accounting for 8% of global
oil production (Thompson et al. 2009). Most plastic
products are lightweight, inexpensive, and durable.
These defining characteristics make plastics a con-
venient material for the manufacture of everyday
products. However, these same attributes make plas-
tics a threat to ecosystems due to their persistence in
terrestrial, aquatic, and marine environments. Mar-
ine litter, and plastic pollution in particular, is ubiqui-
tous, and, in fact, the proportion (in terms of mass) of
ocean debris that is plastic increases with distance
from the source (Gregory & Ryan 1997). Plastic pollu-
tion is now recognized worldwide as an important
stressor for many species of marine wildlife and their
habitats (Moore 2008).
Marine wildlife is impacted by plastic pollution
through entanglement, ingestion, bioaccumulation,
and changes to the integrity and functioning of habi-
tats. While macroplastic debris is the main contribu-
tor to entanglement, both micro- and macrodebris
are ingested across a wide range of marine species.
The impacts to marine wildlife are now well estab-
lished for many taxa, including mammals (Laist 1987,
Inter-Research 2014 www.int-res.com
*Corresponding author: email@example.com
Global research priorities to mitigate plastic
pollution impacts on marine wildlife
A. C. Vegter, M. Barletta, C. Beck, J. Borrero, H. Burton, M. L. Campbell,
M. F. Costa, M. Eriksen, C. Eriksson, A. Estrades, K. V. K. Gilardi, B. D. Hardesty,
J. A. Ivar do Sul, J. L. Lavers, B. Lazar, L. Lebreton, W. J. Nichols, C. A. Ribic,
P. G. Ryan, Q. A. Schuyler, S. D. A. Smith, H. Takada, K. A.