Plastic pollution developments

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    Though plastic waste in the oceans is a well known issue, there are new developments suggesting that some plastics may be more dangerous for marine life than others. For example, ‘rubbery’ plastics consistently absorb more organic toxins than ‘glass-like’ plastics.

  • Another study revealed microplastics in the gut of ten species of fish from the English Channel. The quantities of plastic ingested were very low and further studies are needed to determine the rate of accumulation, behaviour in the digestive tract and if there are harmful effects for the fish.
  • A new research vessel devoted to the study of marine plastics is being developed with the aim of filling knowledge gaps about plastic pathways and degradation in the ocean. It is hoped the studies conducted from the ‘Spindrift’ will help to target ocean clean-up efforts, ensuring our responses are targeted and effective.

Implications and next steps: The ideal situation would be waste prevention and the elimination of plastic entering the ocean, in line with the Waste Prevention Programme for England. Continued investigation into alternatives to plastic would be beneficial, particularly for products/ applications that have a high chance of entering the marine environment.

Science for Environment Policy:, Environmental Science and Technology:, Green Car Congress:, Science for Environment Policy:, Marine Pollution Bulletin:

About annaarathe

Research fellow, horizon scanning
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