The amount of ocean plastic waste washing up on beaches could be underestimated by up to 80 per cent, new research shows.
Dr Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, conducted a study comparing the number of plastic items found during a standard black clean up, comparing it to the amount identified by more thorough surveys.
The initial results of several comparative experiments suggest a typical beach clean-up, even if carried out by multiple individuals looking at the same area, on average only identifies between 20 and 25 per cent of the waste that is actually present on the surface.
Dr Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, told Sky News current pollution data could represent just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of what is really in the environment.
“The reality of the plastic situation is that we are only skimming the surface,” Dr Lavers said.
“What is really truly out there: we don’t have the complete picture; there are big gaps in our understanding.”