Henderson Island — World Heritage-listed site most polluted place on planet

As per a new research, the beaches of the World Heritage-listed island — part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands territory — is littered with an estimated 37.7 million pieces of plastic

Henderson Island — World Heritage-listed site most polluted place on planet


Henderson Island, a remote place in the South Pacific, has been found to be the most polluted place on the planet, with over 37 million pieces littered on its beaches.

As per a new research, the beaches of the World Heritage-listed island - part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands territory - is littered with an estimated 37.7 million pieces of plastic.

Jennifer Lavers, the lead researcher at University of Tasmania in Australia, said the debris weighed 17.6 tonnes, the highest density of plastic rubbish anywhere in the world.

She said the finding should act as a warning that plastic pollution is as big a threat as climate change.

"What's happened on Henderson Island shows there's no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans," Lavers said.

"Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale."

There was 671.6 items of debris per square metre on Henderson Island, which lies between Chile and New Zealand in the South Pacific, with 3,570 new pieces of litter washing up on just one of the island's beaches every day, said the researchers.

Lavers said that most of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced globally every year was not being recycled and having a long-term impact on the world's oceans.

"Plastic debris is an entanglement and ingestion hazard for many species, creates a physical barrier on beaches to animals such as sea turtles, and lowers the diversity of shoreline invertebrates," she said.

"Research has shown that more than 200 species are known to be at risk from eating plastic, and 55 percent of the world's seabirds, including two species found on Henderson Island, are at risk from marine debris," Lavers added. The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.