1,000 tons of plas­tic f lushed to sea each year off Scots coast

Scottish Daily Mail - - Outcast Andrew - By Mark Howarth

A THOU­SAND tons of plas­tic lit­ter is clog­ging up Scot­land’s seas each year, a re­port has re­vealed.

New re­search has laid bare the stag­ger­ing scale of the me­nace posed by our throw­away cul­ture.

The study, by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment body Marine Scot­land Science, has es­ti­mated for the first time the amount of plas­tic pol­lu­tion wash­ing into our At­lantic and North Sea wa­ters and where it comes from.

Its con­clu­sions pro­vide an alarm­ing in­sight into so­ci­ety’s re­liance on plas­tic and the po­ten­tial dam­age be­ing done to the marine en­vi­ron­ment.

In all, 200 mil­lion pieces of macroplas­tics (mea­sur­ing more than 5 mil­lime­tres) are flushed into the seas around Scot­land through our rivers, the ma­jor­ity of it via the Clyde and Forth.

A fur­ther 8mil­lion frag­ments are washed in from out­side while 4mil­lion more are dumped into the wa­ter by the fish­ing in­dus­try, which equates to a to­tal 1,060 tons of rub­bish.

Be­tween 50 and 220 tons are lifted by vol­un­teers on beach cleans – such as those or­gan­ised as part of the Daily Mail’s Great Plas­tic Pick Up.

How­ever, vast amounts are taken by cur­rents to­wards the Arc­tic, down to­wards Eng­land or sim­ply sink to the sea bed.

A fur­ther 24.7 bil­lion specks of mi­croplas­tics (mea­sur­ing less than 5mm) – weigh­ing 251 tons – also con­tam­i­nate our coastal wa­ters with nearly half of it set­tling be­neath the waves, where it en­ters the marine food chain.

A Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety spokesman said: ‘In­roads are be­ing made where be­hav­iours are chang­ing. We find far fewer sin­gle-use plas­tic car­ri­ers on Scot­tish beaches since the in­tro­duc­tion of the 5p charge.

We be­lieve an all-in­clu­sive de­posit re­turn sys­tem in Scot­land will have the same re­sult on bot­tles and cans. More beach cleans are tak­ing place.

‘The mes­sage is get­ting through but there’s still a long way to go.’

Dr Richard Dixon, di­rec­tor of the char­ity Friends of the Earth Scot­land, said: ‘These shock­ing fig­ures show the huge amount of plas­tic waste which we ca­su­ally chuck away but then ends up pol­lut­ing the sea, lit­ter­ing our beaches and putting wildlife in dan­ger.

‘All of us need to do bet­ter at cut­ting down on plas­tic but shops and man­u­fac­tur­ers need to try much harder at re­duc­ing the amount of plas­tic they are forc­ing us to take home.’ Marine

Scot­land Science’s study – com­piled by oceanog­ra­pher Dr Bill Tur­rell – pulls to­gether data and ev­i­dence to pro­duce an au­thor­i­ta­tive pic­ture of Scot­land’s plas­tic pol­lu­tion prob­lem.

It in­cludes par­ti­cles driven in and out of our wa­ters by the cur­rents and winds plus those added by the flow of rivers and re­moved by hu­man hand too.

The study, pub­lished this week in Marine Pol­lu­tion Bul­letin, found the east coast is more heav­ily af­fected each year, with 709 tons of plas­tics com­pared with 601 tons on the west.

Around half drifts north and south but the re­main­der per­sists in the im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment.

The ma­jor con­trib­u­tor on both coasts is lit­ter washed out from the Cen­tral Belt – 830 tons flushed into the seas through the Clyde and Forth es­tu­ar­ies.

The study states: ‘More than 90 per cent of plas­tic in Scot­tish seas typ­i­cally come from Scot­tish lit­ter­ing on land [which] puts about 1,000 tons of macroplas­tic into seas each year.’

‘Huge amount of waste’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.