Plastic polluting Scotland’s remotest islands and beaches

Marine scientists aboard Greenpeace’s vessel the Beluga II have documented extensive plastic pollution in some of the most remote parts of the UK.

The Beluga II  is due to dock in Edinburgh today after a 2-month survey and in-depth analysis will follow in the coming months.

Initial findings document extensive plastic pollution in remote locations of Scotland, including important feeding grounds for basking sharks, seals and whales and numerous seabird colonies.

This survey builds on the increasing body of scientific evidence that has highlighted the scale of the plastic pollution problem in the world’s oceans and the threat to marine life and human health.

recent Coastwatch report showed that 80 per cent of surveyed beaches in Ireland contained plastic litter.

Greenpeace will present a petition to the Scottish government calling for a deposit refund scheme for drinks containers to be introduced.

This follows the recent announcement of a bill by the Green Party that would implement a similar system here in Ireland.

Among the measures, the bill would implement a 10 cent refund to citizens returning plastic, glass or aluminium drinks containers.

Green Party leader, Eamon Ryan TD outlined the global context for this bill: “The issue of plastic pollution is a massive challenge. Every year, over 110 million tonnes of plastic is produced. Of this, up to 43% ends up in landfill.”

He also referenced the worrying estimates that 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into oceans each year and that at the current rate, we are on route to having more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Countries that use such schemes typically see greater than 90 per cent return rates.

The Environmental Pillar has long advocated for a drinks container deposit refund scheme and have just testified before the Joint Oireachtas Budget Committee asking for such a measure to be adopted.

Mindy O’Brien, of VOICE, which is a member organisation of the Environmental Pillar, said: “With the new government in place, and with Scotland taking similar steps, we call on Minister Naughten to join 23 other countries and support this initiative to combat our throw-away society and to promote the circular economy”.

A version of this article appeared in the Green News on June 27th, 2017.


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