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A Voice for Our Ocean

Statement: Plastic Bag in Mariana Trench One of Many Discoveries Pointing to Decades of Growing Plastic Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A number of recent news articles have homed in on a study published last month in the journal Marine Policy, which highlighted that remnants of a plastic bag were discovered in the Mariana Trench, approximately 10,898 meters below the surface. The following statement was issued by Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® Program:

It is tragic that plastic pollution has reached the farthest depths of our ocean. Unfortunately, this is exactly what one would expect. We know that plastics have found their way to some of the most remote places on earth; scientists have already reported evidence of plastic pollution in deep-sea animals like lanternfish and even frozen into Arctic sea ice. It bears repeating that the plastic bag in question was added to JAMSTEC’s Deep-Sea Debris Database twenty years ago. This problem didn’t start today or this year, or even this decade. But it will only get worse if we do not take action.

Many single-use plastic items, including plastic bags, can and should be phased out. Here, consumers can have a real impact by choosing alternative, more sustainable products. But with eight million metric tons of plastic entering the ocean every year—and that number slated to grow—we also need government and the private sector to work together to research and develop better, more sustainable materials; to increase the recyclability and recycled content of plastic products; and to invest in waste collection and management systems—particularly in developing economies—to prevent plastic from entering the ocean in the first place.

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Ocean Conservancy experts are available for comment.

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.