Study reveals the detrimental effects of plastic pollution in our oceans
A new report has revealed the extent to which our oceans are becoming increasingly polluted by plastic waste.
For the first time, researchers from the University of Georgia have quantified the amount of plastic waste polluting the ocean, claiming that in 2010, approximately 8 million tonnes entered the oceans due to damaging and inadequate global waste disposal practices.
China was identified as the worst offender – although this is perhaps unsurprising due to the size of the population and vast coastlines – with Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the Philippines all highlighted for particularly harmful marine plastic pollution levels.
The damaging effects of plastic entering our oceans are extensive; small items can be eaten by fish or birds, whilst larger fish, dolphins and even small whales can get caught in discarded nets and other plastic. Eventually, some plastics break down into small particles which are impossible to remove, the effects of which on marine life and human health are unknown.
Due to our comparably strong waste management infrastructure, the UK did not feature in the list of the top 20 offenders named by the study. However, we are by no means guilt-free. Beaches around the UK are constantly littered with plastics which find their way into the ocean, mostly through irresponsible consumer waste disposal behaviours – a plastic wrapper you unwittingly drop down a drain can easily end up in the sea or a river.
Once it enters the sea, plastic is near-impossible to retrieve; what washes up on our beaches is just a small percentage of the plastics that make their way into even the deepest oceans. With a tenfold increase predicted in plastics entering our oceans by 2025, scientists are warning of an urgent need to move towards preventing plastic waste from entering the ocean in the first place through responsible recycling and waste management improvements.
It is becoming increasingly important to take responsibility for our waste and consider the damage we do to the environment through everyday behaviours and habits. Lucy Woodall, a marine biologist from the Natural History Museum in London, has documented the effects of microplastic debris in the deep sea, and commented ‘this environmental challenge is one entirely of human making, but we can all help by starting to value, reduce and reuse plastic products’.
That’s where we come in.
Skip Hire Network is a part of the Recycling Lives group, comprising various waste management and commercial recycling services, with an overarching commitment to diverting waste from landfill and eliminating environmentally harmful waste disposal practises. When you book a skip through Skip Hire Network, you know that your waste will be dealt with responsibly.
As well as promoting environmentally sustainable waste management practises, Skip Hire Network provides funding and support for charities throughout the UK, including the Recycling Lives social welfare charity. The charity helps disadvantaged and homeless individuals to get their lives back on track, providing work experience, accommodation and support.
With just a few clicks, you can book a skip at www.skiphirenetwork.com knowing that you are making an environmentally and socially beneficial choice and taking responsibility for your waste.
To read more about Lucy Woodall’s research, go to rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/1/4/140317 or view the University of Georgia’s study at www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768.