More than 300 million tons of plastic is produced each year, and most of that colossal amount does not get recycled. Unfortunately, a lot of it ends up in the world’s oceans and, eventually, on beaches -- including on the shores of one of the most remote islands in the South Pacific. Although it is uninhabited and should be an untouched paradise, little Henderson Island is anything but. In a 2017 study, researchers calculated that 17 tons of plastic debris have washed up on the island's beaches. They concluded that Henderson has become the world’s most polluted island -- despite not even having a single human inhabitant.
A paradise paved with plastic:
- Researchers from the University of Tasmania estimate that there are about 62 pieces of plastic per square foot (671 pieces per square meter) on Henderson Island, the densest amount of plastic pollution ever recorded.
- The island sits near the center of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current, which means that litter from South America and debris from fishing boats find their way to the uninhabited island.
- Plastic is a hazard for many animals. More than 200 species are known to be at risk from eating plastic, and 55 percent of the world's seabirds are threatened by marine debris.