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Last night saw the final installment of War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita on BBC One, featuring Fauna & Flora International (FFI) vice-president Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which has once again got the nation talking about our plastic footprint.
That there may be 19.5 billion items of single-use plastic in UK households is alarming, but sadly not surprising. Around half the plastic waste we produce globally is packaging designed to be used just once. We know that, far from being recycled in perfectly closed loop systems, vast quantities of plastic are leaking into our waterways and oceans, where they are causing harm to marine life. More than 180 different species, including mammals, fish, birds and invertebrates, are known to have eaten plastic. Once eaten, plastic can cause choking, damage to the gut, as well as a false feeling of fullness that may lead creatures to starve.
FFI - Solutions - Pollution - Decade - Below
At FFI we've been working on solutions to marine plastic pollution for a decade. Below is our take on some of the areas covered by War on Plastic—and what we think needs to happen next.
It was absolutely shocking to see the piles of illegally dumped waste in Malaysia, much of it low-grade plastic that is economically unviable for recycling within current systems. As we noted in our joint NGO report No Time To Waste released last month, it is incumbent upon rich nations such as the UK to minimise the export of plastic waste, and at the very least to ensure that receiving countries are able to process it. As Hugh's conversation with a family living near a plastic dumpsite illustrated, our report shows that as well as impacts on marine life, people in low-income countries are facing numerous threats to their health related to plastic waste. Up to one million people could be dying every year...
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