February 18, 2013
Almost half of the world’s marine animals and a fifth of its seabirds are at risk of becoming entangled or eating the stuff, prompting ecologists to call for the worst plastics to be declared hazardous materials.
Without action, the international group estimates, the planet could have another 33 billion tonnes of plastic by 2050. That would fill 2.75 billion garbage trucks, enough to wrap around the planet 800 times if lined up end to end, the researchers say in a commentaryin the current issue of the journal Nature.
“This could be reduced to just four billion tonnes if the most problematic plastics are classified as hazardous immediately and replaced with safer, reusable materials in the next decade,” they say.
Industry officials were quick to call the idea “neither justified nor helpful” saying plastic debris is better tackled through more research and “public-private partnerships.”
The ecologists say the physical dangers of plastic debris are “well enough established” and the chemical dangers “sufficiently worrying” to warrant regulatory action now. Continue reading
By Margaret Munro
When biologist Jennifer Provencher headed to the Arctic, she signed on to help assess how seabird diets are changing as temperatures climb in the North.
She never expected to find plastics on the menu. But she and her colleagues at the Canadian Wildlife Service are pulling remarkable amounts of trash from birds in some of the remotest spots on Earth.
Fulmars are strong flyers that skim the surface swallowing tasty tidbits, and 84 per cent of the ones the researchers examined from two Arctic colonies had plastics in their guts. Continue reading