This month Murcia authorities in Spain have launched a campaign to raise awareness about plastic waste dumping. This comes after a sperm whale, currently on the endangered species list, washed up to shore with 64 pounds of plastic in his stomach.
Forbes reported that an autopsy revealed that the whale had swallowed 64 pounds in plastic nets, ropes, plastic bags, plastic sacks, and more. The El Valle Wildlife Rescue Center reported that the whale was killed by gastric shock to his stomach and intestines. This isn’t the first whale to be killed by plastic.
Last year, another whale was found with more than 30 plastic bags inside his stomach, stranded off the coast of Norway. He had to be put down.
Our oceans’ plastic problem is bigger than we’eve ever imagined and as the world’s population increases, it will only get worse unless we do something about it. We’ve recently reported on the plastic patch in the Great Pacific — 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing in at 80,000 metric tons are currently floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
What is the world doing about this?
The European Union is currently trying to transition its countries to use only recyclable plastic by 2030 – many agencies are looking to eventually completely phase out non-biodegradable plastics.
Last week in Canada the environment minister launched a consultation to create a national strategy that will decrease the amount of plastic used (and thrown away) by Canadians.
At the start of this year, China stopped allowing plastic waste imports from overseas countries. In the past, countries like Australia, Japan, and the U.S. would send their waste to China where it would be processed and reused. This means that waste that would normally go to China has been sitting in these countries. Gayle Sloan, the chief executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia told ABC: “It’ll be a real challenge finding homes for these products in the short term.”
The organization, The Ocean Cleanup, will be will be launching the world’s first plastic-cleaning machine this summer, intended to collect the plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
We need to push our governments to implement green industrial policies to cut back on waste. Do a quick google search to see what your city is doing with plastic waste, and make an effort to make your home less dependant on plastic products.
The plastic crisis is more urgent than we ever thought and if we don’t take it seriously, our oceans will not survive.