After shocking images of many parts of the world appeared in the press this month, Prince Charles has spoken out about the devastating effects that plastic has, and is increasingly having on our seas and oceans – yet alone the knock on effects in the food chain and environmental health.
Prince Charles joins a long list of ‘the famous’ who are endeavouring to educate people on the potentially massive disaster awaiting our planet, due to plastic waste polluting our seas, oceans and environment in general, together with our biodiversity and animal and human health. More and more tonnes of plastic waste are being dumped into our waterways and by 2050, and Dame Ellen MacArthur, who is currently spearheading a huge new project, believes that there will be more plastics than fish – a frightening prospect.
Recently, a report showed that a little known and largely uninhabited island in the South Pacific (Henderson Island) had no less than 38 million pieces of plastic washed up on the shore, the most ever found in one particular area. Researchers from the University of Tasmania and our very own RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) found hundreds of species of sea life including fish, crabs and even birds living in plastic bottles, caps, jars and even a dolls head – soon to meet their fate. The world is simply crying out for something to be done, particularly in the development of the plastics we use, but also in terms of disposal.
Let’s look at the UK, even though the problem extends throughout the world. Last reported figures show that a whopping 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used in just a year in the UK – less than half of this amount is recycled, with the end result being that 16 million bottles EVERY DAY are just simply deposited wherever the users throw them. Absolutely astonishing figures and a poor indictment of the attitude of waste disposal by our own population. Is this really the practice of a sophisticated and caring world?
Thankfully, scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators and designers are sitting up and listening with the advent of a new incentive programme to save our seas and oceans, and in fact, our world as it is today. Prince Charles has not only supported but has also joined forces with some of the most influential people in the world to try to alter the potentially disastrous course that this type of pollution will follow. Dame Ellen MacArthur Foundation are at the forefront of offering a new multi-million cash incentive to save our seas, which was launched by the Prince at the Saatchi Gallery this month – a call to action for all those that can help to protect our environment. Called ‘The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize’ they are hoping that this incentive will discover new ways and new plastic inventions to avoid the potential destruction of our planet.
Dame Ellen reiterated at the launch ‘after 40 years of effort, only 14% of plastic packaging is headed for recycling, and 30% is never collected and ends up in the environment’. With this incentive and the help of scientists and anyone at all who can discover or invent a plastic system that works, we may have a chance of saving the life of our planet.
Throughout the world, politicians such as John Kerry (former US Secretary of State) heavily backed the campaign to focus on the initiative to save our oceans and seas, stating that ‘this could not be more timely, and it could not be more critical’.
Please take time to think about that plastic water bottle, or container that doesn’t go into recycling and is a ‘one-off use only’.
Or think about plastic items that you can safely re-use time and time again, before recycling them properly. Every single safely recycled or reusable item seriously counts – be planet aware please.