Archive for November, 2016

MICROPLASTICS AND MARINE LITTER – TALK

Nigel Mortimer of the AONB has sent this message and link to a recent talk by Prof Richard Thompson.:-

During Science Week, earlier this year, I invited you to a couple of talks on plastics ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ kindly hosted by the Kingsbridge Community College.

Professor Richard Thompson from Plymouth University was one of the two excellent speakers, talking on “Marine Litter: are there solutions to this global environmental problem ?”

Professor Thompson gave a very similar talk to members of the Marine Biological Association last Friday and due to Global demand, the talk was recorded. If you’d like to watch it yourself, here is the link;

www.mba.ac.uk/2016/11/16/microplastics-talk-by-richard-thompson

Richard spoke to the ACA some years ago but his story about microplastics has moved on somewhat since then.  I attended the talk at Kingsbridge College referred to by Nigel and found it fascinating.   An outline is provided below.:-
Marine Litter is a global environmental problem with consequences for human health, the economy and wildlife.  This litter is pervasive throughout our oceans form the poles to the equator and from sea surface and shoreline to the deep sea. It is hazardous to seafarers resulting in unnecessary coastguard and rescue callouts and has substantial economic consequences for the local authorities responsible for clean-up. Perhaps most widely documented are encounters with wildlife which can result in direct harm and death. Well over 600 species of marine organisms are reported to encounter marine litter and the majority of these encounters are with plastic items.

However, marine litter is an environmental problem that can be solved. The majority of the items that become marine litter are single use disposable items including packaging and sewage related debris. Such items can bring considerable societal benefit, for example in terms of food security and light weighting to reduce fuel usage, however these benefits can all be realised without the need for any  emissions of litter to the ocean.  Hence the long term solutions lie in recognising that if designed, used and disposed of appropriately, then end-of-life items that currently accumulate in waste management facilities and as litter in the natural environment can be used as a resource for production of new products. Working toward a circular economy of this kind will help reduce our reliance on non-renewable resources and simultaneously reduce the quantity of waste requiring disposal.