Plastic Pollution

Jun 19, 2018

Much is being written about plastic pollution in our rivers, estuaries, dams, lakes and particularly in our oceans. It is estimated that 12 million tonnes of plastic gets dumped into our oceans every year and from the ocean surface to our deep oceans it is having a devastating effect on sea life including killing an estimated 1 million sea birds annually.

The information below is from Imbewu Sustainability Legal Specialists (Pty) Limited 2018 March and 2018 April Sustainability Newsletter and Legislation Update:

 

March: PLASTIC:

Ekoplaza, a Dutch supermarket, has opened a store where items on its aisles are completely free from plastic packaging and it has plans to introduce plastic free aisles in all of its 74 stores by the end of this year. Source: Climate Action Programme dated 1 March 2018.

Researchers from the State University of New York tested 259 individual bottles of water from 11 different brands and available in 9 different countries and their research found plastic contamination in 93% of the bottles. The leading brands have defended their products by stating that their own research has shown significantly less contamination. The impacts of plastic in the human body are not yet clear. Source: Climate Action Programme dated 15 March 2018.

Adidas, in partnership with Parley (a US organisation aimed at protecting ocean wildlife and eliminating plastic waste), sold 1 million shoes made out of ocean plastic last year. Source: Climate Change Programme dated 15 March 2018.

PLASTIC BAG RECYCLING: The plastic bag levy was introduced in South Africa over 14 years ago with the intention that the money raised by this levy would be fed into the recycling industry. However, according to figures from National Treasury, R1.8 billion has been raised but only R919.6 million has been allocated to recycling projects.

April: PLASTIC:

The United Kingdom’s (UK) Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that her government had set aside £61.4 million to support efforts to reduce plastic waste in Commonwealth countries and has urged member states to join the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance. Source: Climate Change Programme dated 16 April 2018.

In 2006, a group of scientists from Japan discovered bacteria that could digest certain plastic. Since then several teams from around the world have been studying and improving on this bacteria’s structure. They believe that it is not a complete solution to plastic pollution but it does show how bacteria could assist in plastic recycling efforts. Source: BizCommunity dated 19 April 2018.

The Department of Public Works in India has announced plans to construct 100km of roads by using shredded plastic. In addition to recycling plastic, it will also insulate the tar from water which will prevent rainfall damage to the roads. Source: The Green Times dated 15 April 2018.

Scientists plan to launch an ocean plastic cleaning machine into the Pacific’s “Garbage Patch” which is between Hawaii and California and which contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. Source: The Green Times dated 24 April 2018.

 

Despite commitments from some governments and organizations, various individual campaigns, some supermarkets starting to get rid of plastic packaging and despite all the talk, our oceans are in danger of becoming plastic logged.  Humankind caused this scourge, now it’s up to us to fix it, urgently.  As we all know estuaries feed oceans so it is imperative that we keep our two beautiful estuaries in a pristine condition.

For a start we as individuals are able to do our part in never using single use plastics.  For example, do not use plastic shopping bags, fine plastic bags for wrapping fruit and vegetables, straws, plastic cotton wool buds, plastic water bottles and balloons.  Become aware of how you are adding to or hopefully stopping your use of plastic products.

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