400M pieces of plastic found on beaches of remote tropical islands

AUSTRALIA -- New research published Thursday estimates that roughly 414 million pieces of trash have washed ashore on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The research was published in the Scientific Reports journal.

The island chain, which is off the coast of Australia, consists of 27 islands and is largely uninhabited.

Although the chain is only home to about 500 people, the beaches are estimated to be littered with a whopping 238 tons of disposable plastic.

Much of the trash is single-use consumer items like bottle caps, straws, shoes and sandals.

Experts said our oceans have become a "reservoir" for plastic over the last 60 years.

Nearly 1 million shoes and more than 370,000 toothbrushes were among the millions of pieces of plastic found by the research team.

Researchers said there is probably more plastic debris on the beaches than their estimate, which they claim is conservative.