Today, grass roots campaigners like Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, and British national treasure – David Attenborough – are collectively raising the profile of environmental sustainability, making us more passionate than ever. However, one of the worst hit natural resources remains our oceans. Earlier this year, American explorer Victor Vescovo dived the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of almost seven miles. Along the way, Vescovo found a variety of sea creatures and rare wildlife– as well as a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.
Sadly, this is indicative of a much wider issue. Consider the so called Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), which the largest of five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans, providing a stark manifestation of global plastic pollution and the urgent challenges that we face. It was recently estimated that there are 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating around the patch, measuring approximately 1.6 million square kilometres1. Recognising the urgency of this issue, the United Nations recently announced that 186 countries have reached an agreement to monitor and track movements of plastic waste outside their borders. This is to create a better-regulated global trade in plastic, and each country will have to work out the most appropriate way to adhere to the agreement. However, one of the biggest challenges is effectively tracking and locating plastic in our oceans.