Scientists call for action on plastic waste

February 13, 2013

Scientists from around the world have called for laws to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste.

Writing in Nature magazine, the team calls for some plastic items of waste to be classified as hazardous because of their effects on people and wildlife.

'We feel the physical dangers of are well enough established, and the suggestions of the chemical dangers sufficiently worrying, that the biggest producers of - the United States, Europe and China - must act now,' reads the report.

Research has shown that ecologically and commercially important species, such as mussels, corals and salt-marsh grasses, can either eat or become entangled in plastic waste.

There is also concern that plastic waste could allow into the human food chain, as pollutants latch on to plastics eaten by seafood species.

Last month, I reported on research which showed more than a third of fish caught in the English Channel contained tiny fragments of plastic debris.

The author of that study, Professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University, contributed to the Nature report.

'Working with the we have shown that over 370 species, including some that are critically endangered, ingest or become entangled in plastic debris,' says Thompson.

'The Nature report builds directly on our previous research, together with that of other leading world experts, and asks that we acknowledge these problems by reclassification of plastic waste as hazardous.'

'Acknowledging the problems associated with plastic waste is, in my opinion, a fundamental step toward achieving lasting solutions.'

Earlier this year, Unilever announced that it will cut plastic '' from all of its personal care products by 2015.

But the scientists, based in the UK, United States, Japan and Greece, say that it's time for governments to take action.

'With a change in plastics categorisation, numerous affected habitats could immediately be cleaned up under national legislation and using Government funds,' they say.

Explore further: Scientists find tiny fragments of plastic in the digestive systems of fish pulled from the English Channel

More information: … 36/full/494169a.html

Journal reference: Nature search and more info website


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1 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2013
What about the "scientists" who invented the shit? Where are they?
concerned citizen
3.8 / 5 (6) Feb 13, 2013
Glad to see some action on plastic waste. I have come to believe plastics are as bad as radioactive waste, except they seem innocuous and so we have fallen in love with their ease of use.
We need to stop using plastic for everything. Glass and paper are biologically more sustainable and recyclable.
Now we have to rise up and call for restricted use of plastics, or find ways to make it bio-degradable.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2013
They spend their days wondering how t escape the ravages of Capitalism.

"Where are they?" - szores88
3 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2013
the scientists who invented plastic are mostly like dead and turned to dust by now.
1 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2013
Glass and paper both pollute a heck of a lot more than plastic! In terms of energy required for production (CO2) emmissions, the chemicals used in the manufacture of paper products are highly toxic & poisonous to just about everything, you are cutting down trees that could be sucking in CO2, or running a blast furnace to make glass.

We need to get a lot better about recycling our plastics, not switch to things that are worse for the environment as a whole.
3.5 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2013
Those who are critical of the use of plastic - convince me by telling me of how you have managed to live plastic-free? Meaning, no plastics were even involved in the production of products you own or use.

Even where substitute materials are available, they are often inferior in performance, regardless of the cost.

I don't deny that plastic pollution is a problem, but outright bans are not a realistic solution.
3 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2013
We'll be seeing a new river of plastic from 3D printing- the next "big thing". It's presence is insidious, because we eat the fish that eat the plastic. Plastic should be edible as well as biodegradable. I would only eat the more expensive organic, non-GMO plastic, though.
concerned citizen
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2013
Plastic is everywhere, we are bombarded with it and cannot ignore it. We do need to make it biodegradeable or we will be injesting it through our food and then evolution will take over! Good or bad only future will tell.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2013
Plastic was mostly unheard of in the early 1960's.

Plastics are far younger than you know.

"the scientists who invented plastic are mostly like dead and turned to dust by now." - phi-stee
concerned citizen
3 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2013
Within a span of 50 years or so, plastics have taken over our lives. We must recognize the harm they are doing to us. paper and glass may need more energy, create more waste, but that waste is biodegradeable. Energy and water can be conserved and the water cycles back to us. Plastics will destroy us. We cannot burn them due to toxins, they do not degrade, they kill other forms of life that are necessary for our own to survival. Think. Think. Think about the consequences of our selfish lifestyle!
not rated yet Feb 17, 2013
What about the "scientists" who invented the shit? Where are they?

Most of them died years ago, I'd say. Plastics have been around for a while now. And, obviously, will be around for a long long time to come.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2013
I have created a solution to CO2 carbon capture and at the same time an analysis of the value of plastics in waste! One can be used to pay for the other. Here it is

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