1. Plastic pollution reaches a mainstream audience
Ocean pollution had become, and still is, a hot topic within scientific communities. It appeared in discussions and debates at environmental conferences, plastic debris events, in universities, outside PhD laboratories, in lectures and social events like dinners. Plastic pollution in the ocean also made it onto the news as well as in magazines, even the general public has shared their concern on social media, and the list of activists fighting against plastic pollution is increasing. Some celebrities have also joined the cause. For instance, Pharrell Williams took part in a documentary released only a few months ago called “The Plastic Age: A Documentary“, which we really recommend you to watch if you haven’t seen already.
2. “Plankton eating plastic” video goes viral
It was actually in 2013 when researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine laboratory published the first caught-on-camera pictures of plankton ingesting microplastic beads. This was in their paper “Microplastic Ingestion by Zooplankton.” We’re guessing these images only went viral in 2015 because of the recent multimedia coverage of the ocean plastic pollution issue.
2.1. So do went two turtles with single-use plastics being removed from their nose
Just google plastic-straw-turtle and you will see one of the two most horrendous videos of 2015 . A turtle gets a straw removed from its nostril and another video was also uploaded a few months later and this time it was a plastic fork.
These two videos together have been viewed more than 7 million times on youtube alone – perhaps even more on Facebook – we really hope those 7 million people will give up single use plastics for lent!
3. A large-scale cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch gets scheduled to begin by 2020
“The Ocean Cleanup (Foundation) develops technologies to extract, prevent, and intercept plastic pollution. The Ocean Cleanup’s goal is to fuel the world’s fight against oceanic plastic pollution by initiating the largest cleanup in history.”
Our view (a quick note on The Ocean Cleanup): We thought The Ocean Cleanup should go on this list as a development against plastic pollution because cleaning the oceans of plastic debris sounds ideal. However we don’t agree that cleaning up the ocean of debris is the solution of the problem with plastic. We believe that the only long-term solution is to don’t waste in the first place.
4. The plastic bag charge in the UK
Since the 5th of October large shops in England are charging 5p per bag. Official statistics from bag charges that have been already introduced in the UK (Ireland 2002, Wales 2011, Northern Ireland 2013 or Scotland in 2014) proved that a bag charge works. Also only two months after the english bag charge started, Tesco proclaimed a 78% decrease on plastic bags usage from their consumers.
A thought: Will a charge on plastic bags make a long-term difference? Although numbers show that a charge on plastic bags can be very successful on cutting down the amount of plastic bags consumers get, our common-sense says that the only true difference will start from each individual making a difference: say no to plastic bags and bring your own cloth bags to the shop.
5. US bans microplastics, the greatest success of 2015
Only a few days ago both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill banning the manufacture of facewash, toothpaste and shampoo containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017 and the sale of such beauty products by July 1, 2018. Success!
Will the microplastic ban get into the european political agenda by 2016? We really hope we can introduce a european ban on microplastics in our 2016 top 5 highlights of the year. While we work hard to do so, we encourage you to swap for a plastic-free alternative in your morning routine. If you want to learn more about this, just keep an eye on our January posts!