Eventually, this couldtrigger the Kessler Syndrome, a catastrophic chain reaction of collisions and destruction rendering low-Earth orbit unusable for generations.
As the zone is occupied by crewed space stations, missions en route to deeper space and most of the satellites on which we rely for cell phone reception, internet, GPS, weather forecasting and more, the impact would be vast.
So now, in addition to monitoring the junk, thoughts are turning to what can be done about the situation.
Special spacecraft fitted with nets, harpoons, robotic arms or lasers might offer a solution for the orbiting larger items.
But these missions are likely to be complex, expensive and risky.
In the long term, it would make sense to reduce the amount of junk that gets there in the first place.
Ideas include a tax on launches and charging fees for the duration of a satellite's time in orbit. Eventually, the idea is that spacecraft should be able to de-orbit themselves if we are to avoid our nearest region of space becoming a no-go zone for future generations.