As part of British Science Week, The Plastic Tide Project has been launched to raise awareness of the impact that plastic waste has on the environment. Members of the public across the country are being encouraged to monitor the amount of plastic washing up on Britain’s beaches.
The Plastic Tide Project uses new, modern drone technology to track and identify the plastic and fishing wire that washes up on beaches, aiming to eliminate the large amount of waste plastic.
The public is being asked to help scientists tag the waste items in photographs online, in order to create an accurate map of plastic pollution.
The easily accessible website means that CCHSG students can also get involved in trying to make a difference in preserving the environment.
One Year 9 student at CCHSG said: “The Plastic Tide Project is a good way of encouraging people to stop littering on a large scale. Tagging Stateside (the project’s website) is a simple way of teaching people to spot public waste. The game-like style is suitable for all ages.”
Globally, 5 trillion bags are produced per annum, 160,000 of which are used every second. 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since 1950 and yet most of it will never be recycled.
The 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic that has been produced is approximately equal to 25,000 Empire State buildings.
Just 9% of discarded plastic is recycled, while 12% is incinerated and 79% is sent to landfill.
Landfill is still the most common form of waste disposal. There are more than half a million landfill sites in Europe that could potentially be used to mine energy and materials. This poses a major hazard of plastic particles seeping into the surrounding soil, contaminating the wildlife. Plastic can take thousands of years to decompose, leaving chemical compounds in soil.
Furthermore, thousands of marine animals often mistake rubbish for food; unable to digest it, they are poisoned or suffocated by plastic bags floating in the water.
By 2050, it is estimated that 26 billion tonnes of plastic will be consumed across the globe, with less than half being recycled. Consequently, plastic pollution will increase.
We conducted a small survey at CCHSG about recycling. Two students said that they did not recycle much of their plastic, eight students said they recycled some plastic and nine students said that they recycled a lot of plastic.
16 students said that plastic should not be completely banned, because it is useful, convenient and can be reused despite the fact that it is harmful to our environment. However, three students said plastic should be completely banned, because it harms the environment and there are other options which, unlike plastic, are decomposable.
Suggestions for reducing the large quantities of unnecessary waste, include colour coding bins to show people what types of materials can be recycled such as plastics, glass, ceramics, metals and food.
Here at CCHSG, more recycling bins could be placed around the school to cut down littering and to increase awareness.
Left: Panini wrapper left lying on the grass and Right: One of the bins on the school grounds.
If you want to get involved follow this link for more information: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/theplastictide/the-plastic-tide/classify