Oceans of plastic

Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) like to feed on fish and offal discarded by trawlers. Any floating debris they accidentally ingest is retained in their stomachs, and this turns them into ‘flying dustbins’, says Jan van Franeker.

Over the past two years, his team at the Alterra Marine Laboratory on the Dutch island of Texel has analysed 560 fulmars from eight countries. The birds’ stomachs contained an average of 44 plastic scraps, weighing a total of 0.33 grams per bird. One fulmar found in Belgium contained 1603 bits of plastic.

NEW SCIENTIST

It’s hard to know exactly how much plastic waste is now floating in our oceans. Some estimates put it as high as one hundred million tonnes.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the term given to a collection of water-borne plastic waste that has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated to be up to twice the size of Texas and containing around 3 million tonnes of plastic waste.

Four fifths of marine debris is estimated to have been blown or washed from land – in other words this ecological disaster is our responsibility.

It used to be the perceived wisdom that plastic in the oceans, though unsightly, was not an environmental crisis beyond being ingested by sea-life – which in itself may seem crisis enough. It was assumed that it did not break down and therefore would not enter the food chain. New research has shown that plastic does in fact break down, potentially releasing carcinogens and other dangerous particles into the food-chain.

These dangerous substances are now moving up the food chain to humans. Our reckless disposal of waste has come back to haunt us.

We need a radically new solution – and Splosh provides it. If everyone in the UK switched to Splosh for their home cleaning and laundry products – we’d throw away around 500 million less plastic bottles a year.