Plastic pollution is a scourge upon the planet – and it turns out that it’s reached the deepest ocean trench on the earth. While studying man-made debris in the deep sea, scientists recently discovered a large number of single-use plastic products near the ocean floor – including a plastic bag in the Mariana Trench, almost 36,000 feet beneath the ocean’s surface.

The bag, which The Telegraph referred to as the “world’s deepest plastic bag,” was one of 3,425 pieces of man-made debris from the past 30 years that scientists recorded in the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)’s Deep-sea Debris Database. Launched for public use last year, the database includes photographs and images of trash obtained by remotely-operated vehicles and deep-sea submersibles. While the bag’s discovery came to light in an April article for Marine Policy, JAMSTEC’s video of the debris lists the dive date as 1998. JAMSTEC led the team that wrote the article, which included researchers from the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Center and Marine Works Japan.

Related: “Extraordinary” levels of pollution found in deepest parts of the ocean

The scientists said over 33 percent of the debris “was macro-plastic, of which 89 percent was single-use products, and these ratios increased to 52 percent and 92 percent, respectively, in areas deeper than 6,000 meters.” They spotted deep-sea organisms in 17 percent of the images of plastic debris, “which include entanglement of plastic bags on chemosynthetic cold seep communities.” Rubber, metal, glass, cloth, and fishing gear were among the other debris found.

The scientists also sounded the alarm on plastic pollution’s threat to deep-sea ecosystems, pointing to a statistic estimating that almost 80 percent of global plastic waste generated from 1950 to 2015 remains in landfills or the environment, and has not been burned or recycled. According to the research team, “Minimizing the production of plastic waste and its flow into the coastal areas and ocean is the only fundamental solution to the problem of deep-sea plastic pollution.”

You can check out a video of the Mariana Trench plastic on the JAMSTEC website.

+ Marine Policy

Via The Telegraph

Image via Depositphotos