"A Plastic Ocean" screening 20 March 5.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Bennett Building

Posted by lcb14 at Mar 14, 2017 10:40 AM |
Single use disposable items are found in some of the world’s most remote environments, but what hazard do they pose to animals and human alike? This is the question posed by the makers of A Plastic Ocean, who employ a range of scientific experts and enthusiasts to determine how our consumption habits affect our health and the world around us.

In Europe, the average family throws away 40kg of plastic a year; which ultimately ends up in landfill or the environment [1]. 300 million tonnes are consumed worldwide every year, and if current trends continue this number is set to rise to 40 billion tons; enough to wrap the planet in cling film 6 times [2]. Of this, approximately 15-25% is recycled. The question is, what happens to the rest of the plastic in the long term?

Images of sea turtles trapped in can rings have been widespread for many years, but what is less well-known is the ubiquity of plastics of varying sizes in the digestive tracts of aquatic animals; ranging in size from whales [4] to plankton. This ingestion happens both as a result of accidental eating and confusing plastic particles for food, as well as being passed up the food chain. This, of course, includes us as consumers of seafood [3]. This makes the study of plastic distribution and their chemical effects particularly significant. While plastics themselves are non-toxic, many of them contain additives such as phthalates, and they are thought to absorb and leach potentially hazardous chemicals such as organochlorine pesticides [5]. These may accumulate in predatory animals (such as us!) over time [5]. This makes plastic pollution not just an environmental problem; but a very human one. Change can only be brought about by public perception, which will only change with education. Hopefully, this documentary will encourage humankind to rethink our reliance on plastics; for the sake of the environment, and ourselves.

A Plastic Ocean is screening at 5.30pm in Lecture Theatre 1 in the Bennett Building, on 20 March 2017 and will be proceeded by an introduction by Professor Jan Zalasiewicz.

This event is free and open to the public.

Download the event poster here


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