A decades-old plastic bottle has been found almost intact after being washed up on a UK beach, illustrating just how long plastic waste can survive in the world’s oceans.
The bottle of dishwashing liquid is at least 47 years old, with its branding still clearly visible. It was picked up by a coast guard in Somerset, England, after high tides dumped debris onto the shore.
Lettering on the Fairy-brand bottle says it is reduced by 4d, or four pence, meaning it was sold before Britain changed to decimal currency in 1971.
Its discovery illustrates the “modern day scourge” of plastic pollution, the Burnham Coastguard Rescue Team said in a Facebook post.
“This bottle has been floating around in our waters and still looks almost new,” it added.
Plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to decompose in the ocean, according to a study by non-profit group Ocean Conservancy, while a 2017 UK government report estimated that around 70% of the world’s marine litter is made of plastic.
Plastics in the sea can entangle fish and birds, and damage marine ecosystems.
The coast guard urged visitors to beaches to dispose of their waste in trash cans and avoid flushing items like cotton swabs down toilets.
“Small changes by everyone can make a big difference to our beautiful planet and even to our very own stretch of coast, so let’s make a difference together,” it added.
Around 8 million tons of plastic enters the earth’s waters each year, with plastics set to outweigh fish by 2050, the World Economic Forum warned in 2016.