Plastic pollution is ubiquitous, seemingly found in every nook and cranny around the world, from some of the deepest parts of the oceans, to the Arctic, to drinking water.
But a new paper published in the journal Science on Thursday suggests that, with global efforts, we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste found on land and in our oceans, though eliminating it entirely isn't likely.
"It's a big, complicated, messy problem that spans the entire world and across many different economies, and many different countries, and different industries," said Richard Bailey, professor of environmental systems at Oxford University and co-author of the paper. "So there isn't really a single solution; that we can show now definitively for the first time."
The authors looked at different pathways ranging from business-as-usual, where no effort is made to reduce plastic pollution, to the best-case scenario, where multiple efforts are implemented, both upstream (at the production level) and downstream, like recycling and waste management.