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Research Identifies the Most Harmful Plastics on Marine Species

As stressed-out shoppers descend upon shopping centres and raid online stores in the lead up to the holiday season, a recent article published in The Conversation has caught the eye of many consumers and environmental advocates.

In the article, a group of CSIRO scientists have conducted a review outlining the deadliest kinds of plastic for marine life. The scientists analysed triage data from of 1328 marine animals which had lost their life due to ingestion of marine plastic, finding that plastic bags and packaging, fishing debris and balloons have been among the most lethal plastics for these animals.

With their findings, the group of academics advocate for efficient and considered mitigation of marine life fatalities by targeting these most lethal plastic items. As these plastics are among the most common found in marine plastic surveys, they are a cost-efficient target of plastic reduction measures.


While national and state governments have a responsibility to protect marine species, we as consumers also have the responsibility to reduce our own impact on marine life. So, while we wait for anti-plastic legislation and improved waste disposal infrastructure, what can we do in the lead up to Christmas and the New Year’s Eve?


The simplest measure we can take up ourselves is to avoid disproportionately lethal products, which are responsible for a considerable amount of marine fauna mortality. Balloons, latex and rubber are a prime candidate, and can be replaced with decorations which can be used year on year for birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s celebrations Australia Day and Easter. Consider purchasing high-quality decorations which you’ll legitimately value and use again in 2021 and beyond. Alternately, you can also seek out recyclable paper decorations which can be easily and harmlessly disposed of.


Plastic bags are considerably hazardous for sea turtles, who mistake them for food. These can be swapped out for paper bags or bags made from biodegradable materials. The same applies for plastic utensils, which pose a particular danger to fish species and can be easily replaced with bamboo utensils, or even just use your metal utensils from the kitchen!

The pressure to consume around the end of the year makes it easier to forget the impact of our purchases and plastic usage, so take a moment to reconsider your decorations, gift wrapping and party supplies, and remember just how easy it can be to reduce your impact on marine wildlife!

Learn more about the impact of plastics on our marine environment, learn about microplastics here.

Written by Cody Fowler.


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