Photograph (Felix Jaehn Remix) Ed Sheeran
27 June 2017, 07:24
A scientific voyage has uncovered the impact of plastic pollution on some of the UK's most treasured seas, beaches and wildlife.
The two-month Greenpeace expedition around Scottish coastlines found widespread environmental damage caused by plastic bottles, bags, packaging and fragments.
Campaigners want urgent action to address the problem and on Tuesday a petition will be submitted to Scotland's Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham calling for the introduction of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in Scotland.
Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "It cannot be right that our beaches, seas and the stunning wildlife they are home to should become the final dumping ground for throwaway plastic bottles and other plastic trash.
"With a truckload of plastic entering the ocean every minute, we need urgent action from governments and from major soft drinks companies which produce billions of single-use plastic bottles every year, like Coca-Cola, to stop the flow of plastic into the sea.''
The petition handover coincides with the arrival of Greenpeace ship the Beluga II in Edinburgh to present the initial findings from its mission, carried out in May and June.
Researchers found plastic strewn on more than 30 beaches in remote areas, microplastics in the foraging grounds of basking sharks and seabirds, and animals entangled in rubbish.
Pollution was discovered in the nests and beaks of seabirds in internationally-significant colonies on the Bass Rock, Isle of May and the Shiant Isles.
The expedition conducted more than 40 scientific trawls in remote and biodiverse areas home to wildlife including seals, puffins and whales, with early analysis revealing plastic in multiple samples.
The samples will be sent to the Greenpeace research laboratories at Exeter University for full analysis with complete results to be published later this year.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Marine litter is a serious issue which adversely affects the health of Scotland's seas and the world's oceans.
"It impacts on our wildlife and damages our marine environment, on which many livelihoods depend.
"We are working with the international OSPAR Commission to reduce substantially the amount of litter entering the marine and coastal environment.
"The potential benefits of a deposit return scheme are currently being assessed.
"We are also developing legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of personal care products containing plastic microbeads.''