How we all eat 5g of plastic each week
PLASTIC is the latest fad diet, only you don't know you're subscribing to it, and it's the least nutritional and tasty meal plan out there.
Every week, Australians ingest the equivalent of an entire credit card without realising it, according to shock new research released today.
Such is the severity of the ocean pollution crisis that groundbreaking analysis reveals people consume about 2000 tiny pieces of plastic, or about five grams, every week.
That's the equivalent of 21 grams each month and a total of 250 grams annually - or roughly 52 individual credit cards, the analysis No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People.
The study, published today, was carried out by the University of Newcastle for the global environmental group WWF and shows the impact of plastic pollutions on humans.
Most of the unintended consumption of plastics is via drinking water - both tap and bottled, the study found.
And surprisingly, it's not just fish products that provide a significant source of our plastic diets - salt and beer are two of the biggest culprits.
"These findings must serve as a wake-up call to governments," Marco Lambertini, WWF international director general, said.
"Not only are plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life - it's in all of us, and we can't escape consuming plastics. Global action is urgent and essential to tackling this crisis."
The study comprised analysis of data from more than 50 different studies on the ingestion of microplastics by people and delivers a stark warning.
Current research was examining the long-term health implications of our high plastics diet, Mr Lambertini said. At the moment, we simply don't know because the problem is unprecedented.
"If we don't want plastic in our bodies, we need to stop the millions of tons of plastic that continue leaking into nature every year," he said.
"In order to tackle the plastic crisis, we need urgent action at government, business and consumer levels and a global treaty with global targets to address plastic pollution."
WWF-Australia head of oceans, Richard Leck, called on the Australian government to target the 10 worst single-use plastics.
It could start with a ban on plastic bags and microbeads, the latter being found in a number of common products.
"It's alarming that plastic pollution has become so all-pervasive that we're now ingesting five grams per week," Mr Leck said.
An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic winds up in oceans every years.
Of course, the ramifications of plastic pollution of oceans are much broader than human health, posing a critical threat to wildlife.
WWF has launched a global petition calling for a legally binding treaty on marine plastics pollution. It has already received more than 500,000 signatures.