A grass-roots environmental organisation in the Cook Islands is warning there is a “huge task” ahead to tackle plastic waste in Pacific waters.

That comes after an announcement by the United Nations’ environmental agency that it has declared war on plastic, saying that more than eight-million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean each year.

The UN is urging governments to ban or tax single-use plastic bags and legislate to reduce the use of other disposable plastic.

Technical director of Te Ipukarea Society, Kelvin Passfield, said he hoped that the Cook Islands and other Pacific nations joined the UN’s campaign as that will put more pressure on the countries producing the plastic.

“I think that everybody needs to get behind it and support it and just hope that it hasn’t gone past the threshold, the tipping point, that’s the problem with the way we’re treating the world – if we push it too far it’s going to just tip over that point where it can’t bounce back.”

Mr Passfield said foreign fishing fleets were, no doubt, also contributing to marine pollution in the Pacific by throwing rubbish overboard.