Life Below Water

PPE is Polluting Our Oceans

Disposable PPE is creating a litter issue.

A French conservation organisation has raised the alarm that oceans are being polluted with vast amounts of waste PPE following the recent COVID19 crisis.

According to Opération Mer Propre divers in the Mediterranean seas have started to discover plastic hand sanitiser, masks and gloves, all of which pose a great threat to marine life, who mistake items for jellyfish or become entangled.

Whilst PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has been a lifeline across the globe during the current pandemic, it has inevitably sharply increased the world’s use of single use plastic.  Up to 12 million metric tonnes of plastic is already emptied into our oceans every year, and the majority of plastics are unable biodegrade – instead they break into smaller pieces known as microplastics.  As a result, microplastics have been found in many food items consumed by humans, such as canned fish and even honey.  Scientists also estimate that over 50% of sea turtles and almost every seabird has ingested plastic.

Ocean Asia have noticed a similarly worrying pattern, after finding 100 face masks washed up on a beach of the Soko Islands in just two weeks.

It is vitally important that our oceans are protected.  For more information and resources, please read our education page on Goal 14 ‘Life Below Water’.

Posted by Claire Edwards 23 June 2020

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