Plastic trash at a Big Island beach is turning into a new type of rock, according to a study just published by the Geological Society of America. Kamilo Beach is known as one of the dirtiest coastlines in the world with trash constantly washing ashore. Researchers have just published a study about their troubling discovery.
"I found these big slabs of melted plastic in the rocks down in the reef," explained Charles Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research Institute. "Then I started realizing when I was collecting debris on the beach, there was a lot of littler ones. I've seen them as big as the bed of a pickup truck."
Plastiglomerate is made up of melted plastic, beach sediment, lava pieces, and debris, according to the study.
"We think the majority of them comes from people making campfires on the beach, but I still think that some of them are naturally made when Madame Pele goes into the sea," said Moore.
Researchers collected more than 200 samples at 21 spots along the beach.
"Scientists look for markers of humans' impact on the planet and this is an indelible marker," said Moore. "It's going to be sinking to the bottom of the ocean and lasting for millions of year."
Volunteers haul away tons of trash from the remote area. They're urging people to think twice about using plastic in paradise.
"This article is highlighting the issue that we have with plastic pollution and I think that each of us, individually, have to be accountable for our own single-use plastic consumption and our consumerism," said Megan Lamson of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund.
Moore said he is now receiving emails from around the globe from people noticing a plastiglomerate problem in their community.
"The fact that now it has become part of the geological record is just another in a long series of insults that we're inflicting on our planet," he said.