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This Plastic Bottle Is Almost 50 Years Old & It Was Still Floating Around in the Sea

Literal decades later and it looks almost new.


A U.K. coast guard Instagram page recently drew attention to a plastic bottle that washed up on an English beach. Now, there's sadly nothing unusual about plastic washing ashore. But this bottle was at least 47 years old.

And yet it looks practically brand new, aside from some dirt.

The shape of the bottle and its colors are pretty much unchanged, even after literal decades of wear.

According to ScienceAlert, the bottle is easily dated by the "4D off" label, which was a way of denoting prices before the U.K. switched to its modern-day currency in 1971. That means the bottle is at least from 1971 — and possibly earlier.

Fairy, a dishwashing liquid, has been around since 1960, according to its website.

The National Park Service reports that plastic bottles can actually take up to 450 years to break down.

So, sadly, 47 years is hardly a dent in its overall breakdown timeline.

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But even when things do break down over time, it doesn't really mean the plastic is going away.

According to the NOAA Marine Debris Program, most common plastics just split into smaller pieces until they're so small they're called microplastics. And those microplastics are also wreaking havoc on the ocean.

But wait, there's more!

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According to Packaging News, after 40 years, Fairy switched its white plastic bottle for a clear one made from recyclable material. Hooray!

But in 2010, to celebrate the brand's 50th anniversary, Fairy brought back the classic plastic bottle — and a whopping 3.8 million of them were sold in just six months, per Packaging News.

So, the 47-year-old bottle likely has a lot of other plastic friends in the sea.

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And, that's just one product and one brand. As Azula previously reported, plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps are two of the top 10 biggest sources of ocean trash.

Fortunately Fairy is actually taking steps toward reducing their role in future ocean plastic pollution. In 2017, Fairy's parent company, Procter & Gamble, pledged to help clean up the oceans by using recycled material to make future Fairy bottles.

According to the Cincinnati Business Courier, the bottles will be made from 10 percent washed up ocean plastics and 90 percent post-consumer recycled plastics.

"As the world's No. 1 dishwashing liquid globally and a much-loved brand in the U.K., we want to use Fairy to raise awareness about the plight of our ocean and raise awareness about the importance of recycling," P&G;'s VP of global sustainability Virginie Helias said.

Want to help further reduce plastic in the sea? Cut these single-use plastics from your life:

Add your name right now and pledge to do your part to protect our oceans from plastic pollution with Oceana.

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