A team of researchers, led by  Dr Erik Van Sebelle, at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science say that it will take at least 500 years to stop the growth of five swirling masses of plastic waste in the world's oceans even if we could immediately stop any more plastic going into oceans.

A swirling mass of plastic debris, called the North Pacific Gyre, was discovered about 15 years ago. Similar areas of plastic have since been found in other oceans.

The research shows this plastic accumulation is an extremely slow process.

According to Dr Sebelle, "Even if we were to stop getting any plastic into the ocean tomorrow . . . then these patches would continue to grow for at least another 500 years, They would just grow and grow and grow because of all the plastic we put in the ocean already that hasn't even accumulated in these patches yet."