Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, has again challenged the Government to take bolder steps to tackle the levels of plastic pollution in the sea. Rising levels of plastic in the Arctic ice have been mirrored by rising levels of plastic found in the stomach of marine animals, as well as rising numbers of creatures washing up on beaches tangled in plastic and nets.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The plastic that we see on our beaches and on our roadsides is what brings this to people’s attention, but in fact it is the plastic particles that we don’t see that should be of the greatest concern. A recent BBC Report found that in 1 Litre of melted arctic sea ice there were 234 plastic particles. That surely should be why we take this urgently, and if she is consulting on this it should be about how we do this, not if.”
Responding on behalf of the Government the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Environment and Rural Life Opportunities, Dr. Thérèse Coffey MP, said:
“This Government has taken strong action on banning micro plastics from certain products. We are still waiting for the other nations, but they have committed to make sure that happens by June as well. But I think one of the points he refers to with the Arctic Ice is that this is indeed a global matter, and that is why we work hard with other nations, whether through different forums, whether it is OSPAR, the G7, whether it is other agencies, the UN, and of course our commonwealth countries who will be visiting the UK next month for the summit.”
Speaking after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“The crisis of plastic in our seas continues to grow, and urgent action is needed now if we are to prevent the oceans from becoming a plastic soup. If the situation is not tackled, then by 2042 plastic will almost outweigh fish in our oceans.
“Implementing a plastic bottle return scheme is just one of the ways we can begin to tackle avoidable plastic waste.
“The Prime Minister herself described this as ‘one of the greatest environmental scourges of our time’, and yet her Government have not yet taken a major step in tackling the issue. It is time for the Minister to step up to the challenge."
You can find the BBC report Mr. Carmichael references here.