Researcher Sarah-Jeanne Royer was supposed to measure methane gas coming from biological activity in sea water, but she found by accident that the plastic bottles holding the samples were a bigger source of the warming molecule. The gases produced and accelerated by solar radiation are methane and ethylene, which both contribute to the greenhouse effect. These findings are important because until the discovery, the link between plastics and climate change was mainly focused on the use of fossil fuels in the manufacture of plastic items, while this is the first time that anyone has tried to quantify other warming gases emerging from plastic waste. The discovery hasn’t been received well by the plastic industry, while other scientists agree that further research is urgently needed. Photo credit: IPRC