We all have to do our bit to stop this

Daily Express - - SPECIAL REPORT ON DEVASTATION OF SEAS - By John Ing­ham En­vi­ron­ment Ed­i­tor

STAND­ING on a sun­soaked Caribbean beach of pure white sand is the dream escape from re­al­ity for many of us.

But on trop­i­cal Roatan the tide­line is lit­tered with plas­tic de­bris from bro­ken chairs to tiny splin­ters, from bags to bot­tle tops.

It is, of course, un­fair to pick on Roatan which re­lies heav­ily on tourism. I have seen far worse plas­tic pol­lu­tion in Asia and Africa and you can see the same de­bris on our own shores.

But talk of ban­ning plas­tic is un­rea­son­able. Like so many in­ven­tions – it has the power to do good and also to do ill.

A lot of life-sav­ing med­i­cal equip­ment is made from plas­tic. Us­ing light plas­tic bot­tles makes trans­port cheaper and greener by re­duc­ing fuel use and in turn green­house gas emis­sions.

Declar­ing war on the in­dus­try will also re­quire a clear Plan B. It has a turnover of £23.5bil­lion and em­ploys 170,000 in the UK alone. But the root of the pol­lu­tion prob­lem is sin­gle use plas­tic – the shop­ping bag or cut­lery we use once and then throw away for them to fes­ter for decades.

The so­lu­tion has to range from in­di­vid­ual to global ac­tion. As in­di­vid­u­als we should re­cy­cle when­ever pos­si­ble but a way has to be found to im­prove re­cy­cling both here and in coun­tries where it is non-ex­is­tent.

We also need to turn good in­ten­tions into ac­tion. So we have to re­mem­ber to take bags for life to the su­per­mar­ket and to re­fill bot­tles in­stead of chuck­ing them away.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers should pro­duce only plas­tics that can be re­cy­cled. We need stan­dard­ised re­cy­cling across the coun­try in­stead of the mish-mash of schemes that bam­boo­zle us at the mo­ment.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, we need to help poorer coun­tries to find ways to deal with their waste which all too of­ten gets chucked on to the street or into rivers which carry the de­bris to the sea.

Ul­ti­mately we all need to take ac­tion. Sir David At­ten­bor­ough’s Blue Planet has trig­gered a sea change in at­ti­tudes towards plas­tic – but I bet many of those wring­ing their hands have not changed their habits. It’s time to stop ag­o­nis­ing and start tak­ing con­trol.

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