Plastic Becoming Part of the Earth’s Crust
A marine biologist noticed multi-colored films plastered into shoreline rocks on the island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal. After analyzing the rock, researchers found the film was polyethylene, a common plastic often used in single-use packaging and food containers. In three years, the multi-colored crusts, dubbed “plasticrust,” spread from a single sighting to covering nearly 10 per cent of the rocks’ surfaces.
The researchers believe plasticrust is created by the crash of large pieces of plastic against the rocky shore resulting in plastic crusting the rock, similar to the process of algae or lichens becoming embedded in rock. The plasticrust is gradually replacing these natural crusts, which are important food sources for barnacles and snails.