By 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish, with just five percent of plastic being recycled effectively.
Tammy Schuh, a graduate in Marine Biology at Swansea University, is concerned about what will happen to marine life in Gower if litter continues to lie upon its beaches and in its waters. “Most people don’t realise that by littering the beaches it doesn’t stay on the beaches,” she states.
“A third of plastic ends up in fragile ecosystems such as the ocean. Strong winds and high tides in Swansea will pick plastic up and take it out to the sea. Large plastic bits are then broken into smaller parts and microplastics are created. Even 5p plastic bags can have huge consequences as marine litter. For a turtle a plastic bag looks exactly like a jellyfish so they feed upon it.”
“During my studies,” Tammy continues, “I dissected several fish species in the lab where some of them had tiny plastic bits in their stomachs. Until you open up an animal you don’t see the effect of marine litter.”
Sadly the desire to cut plastic production is overshadowed by the industry’s need to produce more plastic to meet demand for an ever growing population and market. Currently, it is more expensive to recover plastics and recycle them than to keep producing more using virgin crude oil.
When asked how to manage the problem of litter on beaches in the Gower area and in general, Tammy stated, “Managing can only take place if the mind-set of the general public changes. More bins should be provided on the beaches even if it doesn’t look that nice. Furthermore, single use plastics such as plastic containers, straws and plastic cutlery should be banned entirely.”
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