Almost Half Of 12 Million Pieces Of Trash In Oceans Related To Take-Out Food

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Almost Half Of 12 Million Pieces Of Trash In Oceans Related To Take-Out FoodPA Images

A new study has found almost half of the 12 million pieces of trash in the world’s oceans are related to take-out food.

Researchers calculated the findings by combining data points from 36 global inventories worldwide. They’re now calling for bans on certain throwaway items and for fast food producers to take more responsibility.


Eight out of 10 items catalogued were found to be made of plastic, with 44% of plastic trash being related to take-out food and beverages. The most common items found were single-use plastic bottles, food containers and wrappers, and plastic bags.

Plastic (PA Images)PA Images

The study was published in Nature Sustainability, and stated:

The surge of research on marine litter is generating important information on its inputs, distribution and impacts, but data on the nature and origin of the litter remain scattered.

Here, we harmonize worldwide litter-type inventories across seven major aquatic environments and find that a set of plastic items from take-out food and beverages largely dominates global litter, followed by those resulting from fishing activities.

Uru Uru (PA Images)PA Images

Research leader Carmen Morales-Caselles, from the University of Cádiz, Spain, told The Guardian:

We were not surprised about plastic being 80% of the litter, but the high proportion of takeaway items did surprise us, which will not just be McDonald’s litter, but water bottles, beverage bottles like Coca-Cola, and cans.

This information will make it easier for policymakers to actually take action to try to turn off the tap of marine litter flowing into the ocean, rather than just clean it up.

Efforts to reduce plastic pollution have largely focused on easily replaceable items such as straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers and, although researchers welcome these items, this study recommends also prioritising the issue of takeaway waste.


Solutions posed include replacing plastic in take-out food and beverages with materials that will degrade more easily, the introduction of regulatory bans on easily avoidable plastic, like bags, and the potential for deposit-refund schemes to encourage customers to return their take-out items, BBC News reports.

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

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Topics: News, Food, Now, oceans, Plastic, Plastic Pollution, Pollution, single-use plastic


Nature Sustainability and 2 others
  1. Nature Sustainability

    An inshore–offshore sorting system revealed from global classification of ocean litter

  2. The Guardian

    Takeaway food and drink litter dominates ocean plastic, study shows

  3. BBC News

    Plastic pollution: take-out food is littering the oceans

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