Much of our recent reporting has focused on plastic pollution in our ocean and the efforts of individuals, cities and nations to turn the tide on this preeminent issue. Bans on single use plastic products have sprouted like mushrooms from Kenya to the UK to California to India. But is this enough? The Future of the Seas report says it’s not and projects that ocean plastic will triple within seven years.
Released by the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, the report’s data is intended to guide future government policy and its conclusions are disturbing. 300 million metric tons of plastics are manufactured annually and the total amount that ends up as plastic waste in our oceans is predicted to grow from the 50 million tons in 2015 to 150 million tons by 2025. An astounding 70% of all debris found in the ocean is non-biodegradable plastic with devastating consequences for marine life. (photo – NOAA)
“There is extensive evidence that entanglement in, or ingestion of, plastics can cause injury and death to a wide range of marine organisms, including commercially important fish and shellfish,” the report emphasizes.
The report’s authors suggest that solutions to this epidemic of plastic are multifold. First is to keep plastic from getting into the ocean in the first place. This requires education and raising public awareness of the impact of plastic on marine life. (photo – whaleshark found dead from plastic spoon lodged in digestive system in India – TOLChennai)
“The ocean is critical to our economic future. Nine billion people will be looking to the ocean for more food. Yet we know so little of what’s down there,” author Edward Hill said to BBC News. Of equal importance is to increase the availability of biodegradable alternatives to the plastic products used today.
The report focused on Microplastics as another serious aspect of plastic pollution.
“Plastic does not decompose, instead breaking down into ever smaller pieces,” the report says. “The full effects are not understood, but there is growing evidence of plastic harming sea creatures and restricting their movement, as well as polluting beaches.” (photo – Great Lakes Alliance)
To find out more about the effects of tiny microplastic particles on our largest marine creatures read Ecowatch’s: “Microplastics Pose Major Problems for Ocean Giants”
Find out more about the harmful aspects of microfibers in the ocean, see the Guardian’s: “Invisible Plastic: Microfibers are just the beginning of what we don’t see.” Plus learn about some of the simple things that you and your washing-machine can do to curb microfibers from entering our river systems and oceans.
One solution to Ocean Plastic is to Run With It!
In 2015, Adidas with its partner Parley for the Oceans, the German sportswear giant began developing products using reclaimed marine plastics. An initiative that culminated recently, with Adidas announcing that in 2017 they sold one million pairs of shoes made with plastics recycled from debris recovered from the Indian Ocean. Each pair of the UltraBoost shoe, recycles material from 11 plastic bottles incorporated into laces, heel lining and webbing. See our article: Your Next Pair of Running Shoes can be made of Recycled Ocean Plastics
In another sustainability initiative, in 2016 Adidas announced that they were phasing out plastic bags in their nearly 3,000 stores worldwide. A decision that switched 70 million shopping bags from plastic to paper. Read more in EcoWatch.
Eric Liedtke, Adidas’ head of Global Brands announced that it is the company’s intention to produce all of its footwear and apparel products from recycled plastic from the sea by 2024. That’s only 6 years away, if only other major manufacturers would follow Adidas’ lead. Actually some are, read about Patagonia and how they are now making wetsuits from biodegradable, plant-based, natural materials. Read about it in: Will Your Next Wetsuit be Environmentally Friendly?
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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