Our plastics, our coastlines, our problems, our solutions

Britta Denise Hardesty1

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere1


Marine debris or is a globally recognised environmental issue of increasing concern. Marine ecosystems worldwide are affected by human-made refuse, much of which is plastic. This anthropogenic waste comes from both land and sea-based sources and can travel immense distances. It can pose a navigation hazard, smother coral reefs, transport invasive species and negatively affect tourism. It also injures and kills wildlife, has the potential to transport chemical contaminants, and may pose a threat to human health. I will talk about plastics in society, some of the challenges posed and the opportunities provided by plastics. I will also discuss the effectiveness of incentives in reducing plastic inputs to the marine environment, various actions and activities that reduce coastal litter, the impacts on wildlife, and an integrated approach to addressing this modern ‘wicked problem’.