These days it’s hard to avoid plastics, everything is covered in the stuff.
While plastics have become a part of our everyday life, often unnecessary and always difficult to avoid, they are a growing danger to our marine environment. Fortunately there is a growing recognition the resulting waste is creating a hazard for marine life and the ocean’s health as a whole and there is a movement to combat this problem.
The European Commission has published a survey “Reducing marine litter: actions on single use plastics and abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear” and is looking for members of the public, experts, fishermen and fisheries organisations to get involved and have their say.
Plastics make up 85% of beach litter with single use items representing 61% and fishing related items accounting for 20% of these plastic items. The most found single-use plastics items in beach litter are cigarette butts, drinks bottles and their caps/lids, cotton bud sticks, sanitary towels (which are typically 90% plastic), bags, crisps packets and sweets wrappers, straws and stirrers, balloons and balloon sticks, food containers, cups and cup lids, and cutlery.
Another issue of concern is plastic waste from the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, in particular from fishing gear that is lost by accident or discarded when it is no longer fit for use.
The commission’s consultation consists of different parts, one of which is directed at the general public and the two others at audiences with some expert knowledge or interest for single use plastic and fishing gear respectively. The consultation is intended to contribute to developing our knowledge base and guide future actions.