Tackling plastic waste in the oceans

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II has done much to focus public attention on the birds, sea mammals and turtles which die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste. I have received numerous emails about it so will share here my reply to the campaign email.

More than eight million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s seas each year. For sea birds and larger marine creatures, the danger comes from being entangled in plastic bags and other debris, or mistaking plastic for food. Larger pieces of plastic can also damage the digestive system of animals and can be potentially fatal.

In the UK alone, during its recent Great British Beach Clean Up, the Marine Conservation Society found 718 pieces of litter for every 100 metre stretch of beach surveyed, and of this rubbish from food and drink made up at least one fifth.

If I buy a food product in plastic packaging because it is a fluid which needs containment it does not end up in the oceans. I dispose of it through the local Council who get it recycled, or burned for energy from waste, or dumped to landfill. The plastic in the oceans comes from people deliberately discarding plastic waste as litter.

The Government recognises the danger that plastic waste poses to marine life and has taken significant steps to tackle this by seeking to reduce the amount of plastic packaging people might be able to throw away carelessly. It has introduced a ban on plastic microbeads and taken 9 billion plastic bags out of circulation with the carrier-bag charge. It realises that more needs to be done to protect our environment from the blight of plastic pollution and it has recently launched a consultation around deposit reward and return schemes for plastic bottles and other drinks containers. The Government also plans to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

Responding to the public mood , seven major supermarket chains have announced they will make drastic reductions in plastic use over the next five years. Much current plastic packaging would be replaced with paper and pulp trays and paper bags, which would be recyclable through domestic waste collections or in-store recycling facilities. It can only be a matter of time before other supermarket chains follow suit.

The Government recognises that tackling the use of plastic cannot be done in isolation. It is directing some of its development spending to help developing nations reduce plastic waste, increasing  our own marine protected areas at home, and establishing  new Blue Belt protections in our Overseas Territories.

We need to stress it is not just the responsibility of the Government to care for the environment. We must all do our part by using the litter bins, taking our own reusable bags to the shops and reducing the use of throwaway plastic items.

The challenge is to stop people on boats treating the seas as their waste bin and to stop people on land throwing plastic away where it can be caught by the wind or a river and sent to the ocean. We also wish to stop people littering the countryside, so waste does not reach the oceans or pollute areas where wildlife lives.

It is up to all of us to encourage and persuade our friends and family to avoid littering and to report or discourage others we see who are throwing litter away carelessly. We also have to work internationally on the problem as most of the litter in the oceans does not come from the UK.

Parliament must play its part to contribute towards reducing plastic waste.
Parliament recently announced a comprehensive range of steps to drastically reduce its consumption of single-use plastics this year by switching non-recyclable disposal items such as take-away boxes, cups and soup containers to sustainably sourced, plant-based and certified compostable alternatives. Bottled water in plastic bottles will also no longer be on sale in Parliament, eliminating 120,000 plastic bottles annually.

What do you think we should all do to curb the plastic threat to the seas?


  1. Henry Jailer
    August 3, 2019

    You are so right, most of the litter in the oceans does not come from the UK. We need proper border controls. A large fence protecting our waters, with manned crossing points through which litter must pass. God forbid we should ever work with our European partners to address this problem. Britain first!

    1. Woody
      August 3, 2019

      I recall vividly watching a BBC documentary about the green house operations in Spain. They not only abused the migrant labour they employed to make their money but casually and carelessly discarded with no thought the used plastic from their green houses into the environment. Don’t lecture us about Europeans helping to keep our environment healthy.

    2. agricola
      August 3, 2019

      As we buy more from the EU than we sell them I would suggest that product and wrapping specification could reduce the litter considerably. Why do supporters of the EU wish to create so many fences or physical borders. By setting good examples others follow is the reason the process must start at home. It can work both ways. We do not need to be a vassal state to achieve it.

    3. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      No one is suggesting we stop “working with” the EU or indeed the US or any other country after we have left the EU. Mutual co-operation yes anti-democratic rule by the EU or anyone else no thanks.

      1. Fran
        August 3, 2019

        We didn’t vote for deals with anyone else, we voted to leave to be alone by ourselves.

        1. sm
          August 3, 2019

          I think the ballot paper you were given just may have been a forgery, if that is what was printed on it.

        2. NickC
          August 4, 2019

          Fran, We voted Leave to re-establish our self-determination – a UN human right. Advocates of Leave specifically and frequently talked about the opportunities of cross border agreements once we were free of EU control (which currently stops us making them).

      2. Brian
        August 3, 2019

        Utter disgrace. We voted to LEAVE. LIfelogic, I accuse you of being a remainer troll. No deals, no nothing. Just Britain alone!

        1. NickC
          August 4, 2019

          Brian, That is immensely silly. We voted Leave because we don’t want the UK governed by the EU empire. We’re quite happy with mutually beneficial cross border agreements, provided they are specific, limited, and don’t deprive us of the right of self-determination.

    4. Roy Grainger
      August 3, 2019

      “Work with our European partners” is a process not a solution.

      1. A.Sedgwick
        August 3, 2019

        More a journey on the gravy train.

    5. Hope
      August 3, 2019

      About 1800 Land in fill sites close to the coast now being eroded into the sea. Taxing the public is not the answer. Tax super markets and manufacturers t bring about change.

      Who changed glass bottles to plastic, who changed paper bags to plastic, who wrapped everything in plastic?

      Your govt has failed to change councils one jot. Especially for recycling issues and waste management.Your govt. has broken many promises including freezing council tax. The salaries of these people are beyond belief, yet councils use consultants at our expense all the time! Why? That is allegedly why they are paid so much! Another failing of Javid’s when in office. He failed as Business Secretary- to save our steel, he failed as Community Secretary- hiking our taxes breaking more promises, he failed as Home Secretary- knife crime and murder at historic highs! Guess what? Promote him!

      1. Fred H
        August 3, 2019

        no Hope ……’Your govt has failed to change councils one jot. Especially for recycling issues and waste management.’

        An excellent point. Living within Wokingham area I have to pay £60 per year for a ‘green’ wheelie. I am lucky ( but its hard work) having a large garden. I visit Bracknell ‘tip’ almost every week, recently with an old bag of premixed concrete gone solid, plus a lump of ballast about the size of a bucket. To my surprise I am asked to pay for something that small. I can understand significant industrial sized solid material costs. No wonder there is so much irresponsible dumping in public areas, country roads etc.

        1. steve
          August 3, 2019

          Fred H

          “To my surprise I am asked to pay for something that small”

          You already paid for the facility in your council tax. An FOI request for detailed info as to where every penny of your tax goes should demonstrate that.

          Therefore –

          Someone at the tip is on the take.
          The council is ripping you off.

          It goes on everywhere these days.

          1. Hope
            August 4, 2019

            No, councils charge for rubble.

            Councils were allowed under Tories to separate water and sewerage from our rates making it a separate charge.

            Councils currently charging add ons for Adult social care and Flood defence- despite it is the job of the Environment Agency.

            Councils allowed to separate garden waste so it is another charge.

            Another charge the Tories have allowed is maintenance of open spaces and play parks on new developments-in addition to council tax. Now all new developments charge a management fee to maintain open spaces and children play parks between £125-£250.

            Let us not forget in 2010 Tory govt cut council grants but in their place allowed councils to charge CIL and NHB for ever y new home built. it was to provide incentives to force councils to build. no one hears of NHB or CIL but they do here about the cut in grant! it was colloquially known as the “Boles bung” who was community secretary at the time.

            All these add on costs at our expense. The Tories are the highest taxing party in fifty years and these are examples of further taxes they allow other public bodies to charge. All these additional costs hit the lowest paid.

    6. margaret howard
      August 3, 2019

      Henry Jailer

      “You are so right, most of the litter in the oceans does not come from the UK.”

      I don’t know about litter in the oceans but my European friends are often appalled at the litter on our roadside verges when we drive through the Lincolnshire countryside and the overflowing or non existing waste bins provided in our lay bys.

      1. NickC
        August 4, 2019

        Margaret Howard, Yes, such disrespect for our own country stems directly from the example of disrespect for our nation by Remain leaders. Who is going to care enough about litter, when Remain politicians have zero patriotism and don’t care at all? The fish rots from the head.

    7. Kevin Lohse
      August 3, 2019

      You win the prize for the most unintelligent comment of the thread.

  2. Mark B
    August 3, 2019

    Good morning.

    As alluded to in this article it is not the material that is necessarily the problem, but the those who do not dispose of their waste properly. Education, education, education.

    Let us also be very clear where the legislation against plastic bags comes from – the EU. The EU gave member countries two choices. Either they banned the use of plastic bags or, placed a charge upon them. My choice would have been to ban them and replace them with paper ones. But no, our lot decided that this was an opportunity too good to waste (no pun intended) and embarked on a bit of virtue signalling.

    Much of the waste it is said comes from countries that are outside the EU. So imposing a cost on plastic is not really going to do much to save the environment.

    Off topic.

    The government looks set to fall soon. The oxymoron that is the LibDems will be screaming at the Labour leader to call a vote of no confidence. I wonder what our kind host must be making of this ?


  3. Nigl
    August 3, 2019

    Yes by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. The first question is who is putting it there? Without that you cannot find a solution.

    The U.K. is unlikely to hits its recycling target of 50% by 20/20 and sends vast quantities abroad because we do not have the facilities to deal with it. Only about 9% of plastic gets recycled.My recycling needs are vastly more than general waste yet my recycling bin is collected fortnightly, normal bin weekly.

    Why not switch them around you might ask? The Leader of my local council says that’s what people expect and no doubt they are tied into a contract.

    Ban all waste from being sent abroad so local authorities take responsibility and make serious investment in recycling plants.

    As for the bigger picture, use part of the overseas aid budget to help the ‘world’ as opposed to individual countries in researching plastic munching bugs etc and ocean cleaning/hoovering and invest in the hardware to achieve it. Who is the new Minister for Overseas Aid. Hardly hit the ground running? Eaten by the blob already?

    1. Nigel E
      August 3, 2019

      I know our host does not like links so just google “top rivers polluted with plastic” for a Scientific American article on which countries contribute most to plastic pollution of the oceans. The top 10 rivers are all in Africa and Asia. The top polluter – the Indus – makes a larger contribution than all other rivers outside the top nine.

      Whilst I agree it is worthwhile reducing plastic usage (but there’ll probably be a financial cost of using alternatives), as with reducing greenhouse gases, whatever the UK does will have little impact on the overall problem. I would not support diverting/increasing overseas aid for this matter; it needs to be reduced/eliminated until we have balanced budgets.

    2. Bob
      August 3, 2019

      I’m afraid our host has been led up the garden path on this subject, countries such as China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines together with many other such countries in are the worst offenders so banning plastic straws in Britain is going to make diddly squat difference.

      Take a trip around Asia and see what they think about your environmental concerns.

      Reply I made this point in my article!

      1. NickC
        August 4, 2019

        Bob, Some of the plastic waste discarded in third world countries is UK waste we have exported. China used to take it, but no more. Now, which is easier if you are a poor and poorly paid native of an Asian/African country on a ship or on a tip: sorting through nasty trash from a Western state; or throwing some of it overboard or in a river?

        The only reliable managed way I can see is to ban waste exports. That means we would have to change our packaging, change our waste handling, and take responsibility for our own waste, rather than “throwing it over the wall”. Out of the EU we can revert to more landfill as we used to, and stop EU stupidity like calling dredging spoil “toxic waste”.

        1. Bob
          August 4, 2019

          Manufacturing/exporters like China purchased discarded packaged materials to recycle into new packaging materials. Why would you want to prevent that? Better to make sure the buyer has credible recycling facilities before allowing them to purchase your discarded materials, otherwise it places even more burden on natural resources.

    3. L Jones
      August 3, 2019

      I’ve just read an article in earth.com

      To quote a few lines:
      ”…a study shows that 90 percent of plastic waste from rivers can be traced back to ten major rivers in Asia and Africa….. researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany conducted a study to target the source of the ocean’s plastic.
      ”The results, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, show that by reducing plastic pollution in the Yangtze and Ganges rivers, the amount of pollution that ends up in the ocean every year could decrease by half.”

  4. Lifelogic
    August 3, 2019

    All fairly sensible stuff.

    The best way is to discourage supermarkets from selling things in so much plastic in the first place. Why on earth do oranges, lemons, apples etc. have to come in plastic net bags of five (then often on a three for two offer to encourage further waste?) What is wrong with a pile of fruit and buy the number you want of them with no wrapping. The reason is of course to try to get you to pay more and buy more and put sales material on them. Those irritating marketing stickers stuck onto apples for example. Why is toothpaste, tooth brushes and the likes so vastly over packaged?

    Best to go to a decent market and avoid supermarkets and far cheaper and more seasonal too (thus more environmental too).

    The lack of public bins (there used to be far more) and the absurd bin collection systems we now have in the UK (due to the EU war on land fill, land fill taxes and attempts by LEAs to charge for or cut services everywhere) has not helped. Nor has the lack of working public water fountains nowadays so people buy bottles of water.

    Much of what supermarkets do pathetic green wash they are not remotely serious. Many have blow hot air at customers going through the door more of which go out of the door. Many have freezer which are open and waste vast amounts of energy.

    Mind you governments are not serious about green issues either not it seems are google as they fly to climate meeting on private jets. Until the government bans private jets and flight other than economy ones we can safely assume the ministers are hypocrites and do not mean what they say. After all why allow people to double/triple or increase by 20 times their CO2 output just so they can have more leg room for a few hours if you really think the world to heading to a new hot house hell fire? Why allow people to buy water in bottles rather than refill something? Because the pushers greenwash, government ministers and Emma First Class only Thompson surely do not really believe a word of what they are saying. Even the renewable energy solutions these dopes push with tax payer subsidies wind & solar make no significant difference to CO2.

    If you want to do something green yourself then:-
    Go to markets and not supermarkets.
    Drink water and refill you water bottle from a tap.
    Wear thermals and a jumper in winter and turn your heating down a bit and heat only the rooms you need to.
    Eat seasonally and perhaps a bit less and less meat.
    Fly economy.
    If everyone did that just this it would make a huge difference.
    Government to provide more bin and empty them so they do not overflow and public water fountains everywhere please.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      The best thing to do with waste plastic (plastic that cannot easily by recycled which is a lot of it) is usually to burn it (safely it at high temperatures) to produce water, c02 and (on demand) electricity.

      Better still prevent it arising in the first place where possible by refusing to buy things in excessive packaging.

      Of course an extra jumper, thermals and filling up you water bottle are not exciting enough for politicians they want absurdly expensive, pointless and intermittent offshore wind (subsidy)farms off Brighton or solar cells on new school buildings to point at and say look at all this money of yours that we wasted for you!

      1. NickC
        August 4, 2019

        Lifelogic, Not just packaging. I kept an old car going but finally had to scrap it for a newer one. Almost the entire front end, rear end, and interior is plastic, much more so than on the older car. None of the extra plastic was out of design necessity – it would be driven by direct cost.

        1. Lifelogic
          August 4, 2019

          Slightly lighter too so it saves a some fuel and meets the tighter emmission standards.

  5. AlmostDead
    August 3, 2019

    Sorry but we have bigger problems than this. Just a distraction.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      A distraction first used by the dire Theresa May after a David Attenborough programme caught the public’s imagination. An important topic nevertheless.

    2. Richard
      August 3, 2019

      A distraction? Unlike CO2-alarmism, this is a genuine problem; lets hope that it can be contained:
      2015: “The team found that 55 per cent of the fish species sampled in Indonesia contained human-derived debris. … In the US, 67 per cent of the species – including the pacific oyster – contained the debris… Textile fibres made up the majority of human-made debris found in fish in the US, while plastic dominated that found in Indonesia’s fish.” https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28242-plastic-in-the-food-chain-artificial-debris-found-in-fish/

      1. Bob
        August 3, 2019

        So ban plastic straws in the UK to clean up Indonesian coastal waters.
        We’ve really jumped the shark.

      2. AlmostDead
        August 3, 2019

        If individual people want to waste time, energy and money on this so called issue, I’m not stopping you. But a conservative government should not be wasting my hard earned tax money on ridiculous “over-hyped problems” like this. Back to supporting the economy….nothing to see here.

      3. NickC
        August 4, 2019

        Richard, Exactly right. Plastic rubbish in the oceans and in animals is a serious problem which we can and should solve. But CAGW – Prince Charles claimed in July 2009 that humanity had only 96 months to save the world from “irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse” – that really is rubbish.

        1. AlmostDead
          August 4, 2019

          Plastics in the ocean is not a serious problem, other than for the fish. Lets move on

  6. formula57
    August 3, 2019

    Education against regarding the sea as a sewer, a regulatory regime and fines applied on the principle of “the polluter pays” are all needed.

    It is alleged that some plastic waste sent to the Far East in the past has been dumped at sea. China’s Operation National Sword (that includes refusing further to take foreign plastic waste) is having a big impact on recycling in many countries, as is well known, and perhaps will result in better practices worldwide.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      Indeed recycle it or burn it here in the UK for energy.

      1. sm
        August 3, 2019

        I have read very recently that recycling plastic is very expensive. I certainly do not understand why all waste products cannot be incinerated and sensible use made of the heat thus generated.

        1. Lifelogic
          August 3, 2019

          They can be and often the best thing to do with them. But the green loony high priests and the climate alarmist do not like it (for political reasons) just like fracking!

    2. L Jones
      August 3, 2019

      Again from earth.com:
      ”…The worst river polluter was the Yangtze River in China, which sends 1.5 million tons of plastic to the Yellow Sea every year…” and suggests that rivers with the highest estimated plastic loads are characterized by high population – the Yangtze with over half a billion people.

  7. Iain Gill
    August 3, 2019

    UK is a trivial part of the problem compared to India, China, developing parts of Africa, etc.

    We should not push more costs into UK economy for virtue signalling reasons, all that will happen is business will move abroad to less fussy countries.

    We need to figure out how to motivate these other countries to improve, eg mandate improvements in orders we place for their goods.

    1. A.Sedgwick
      August 3, 2019

      Quite, also we should not export our waste overseas to be dubiously disposed, potentially fly tipping on a massive scale.

      There is a similarity with the green barmy armies ignoring the atmospheric pollution by the said countries and their willingness to see our industries decimated by unrealistic targets.

    2. Dennis
      August 3, 2019

      ‘We need to figure out how to motivate these other countries to…….’

      We cannot even do that to show the Chinese that tiger bones etc., etc. do not help to cure anything and that ivory carving to make money is criminal.

  8. stred
    August 3, 2019

    The research on actual sources of plastic waste in the oceans by Dr Christian Schmidt found that 90% of it came from 10 rivers in Asia and Africa. These are the source of most of the total of 269,000 tons, mainly in the Pacific ocean. The WE forum has reported this. The waste from just two rivers is in the thousands of tons pa compared to the Thames at an estimated 18 tons. Of this plastic waste a count has been done and platic straws and bags account for about 1% of the total each. The difference that the ban on straws and bags will make is way below a fraction of 1% worldwide.
    Obviously, it is a good idea to tidy and clean the shoreline and scoop waste out of rivers, but Mr Gove’s zealous bans on stuff that goes in the recycling bin or to landfill is not going to make any measurable difference to the problem. What will make a difference is that China and the Phillipines have banned the disgraceful practice of councils running putting their waste on empty containers going back to the Far East instead of separating and incinerating it. Ships dump waste and there is so much that it finds its way into rivers.

    1. Dan
      August 3, 2019

      This reply is absolutely on the money. In addition to the link I would suggest Hans Rosling’s Factfulness for a more informed view of the world through data analysis

      1. david price
        August 4, 2019

        Sadly, Hans has passed away but he left us Gapminder which still provides interesting perspectives on the world.

    2. stred
      August 3, 2019

      running recycling.

      Ban on straws and bags which fall in rivers=
      0.0001 approx reduction in ocean waste plastic.

    3. glen cullen
      August 3, 2019

      In my street, my neighbours are good recyclers, they put out a bag for plastics, glass and paper….when the refuse collector van comes round they put all the bags into the back together. What a waste of time and effort.

      I agree the effort should be on the major polluting rivers of the world and not the UK

  9. Bryan Harris
    August 3, 2019

    It’s become a habit in the UK to drop litter, of whatever kind, just where people finish with it – My garden demonstrates this quite clearly despite a rubbish bin in a prominent position, takeaway containers etc are regularly deposited in my garden which just happens to be at the point away from the takeaway store for the contents to have been mostly consumed.
    Those that smoke leave their evidence all over the place.
    It’s an unfortunate aspect of life in the UK that so many people have no regard for their fellows that they allow themselves to be so sloppy with their morals.
    As morals decrease in all manner of ways, things will only get worse, so to cure the plastic and general rubbish issues, we have to do something about improving morals – and that will not happen while ever more socialist dogma is pushed our way.

    1. J Bush
      August 3, 2019

      I am old enough to remember when the slogan ‘Keep Britian Tidy’ first came out. That said, as children we were always told to take out litter home. Thinking back now, I don’t recall public litter bins. Maybe because I automatically stuffed whatever it was in my pocket.

    2. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      Indeed I used to have a house with a large garden in such a position once. There was also a traffic lights crossing to delay these litter lout slobs further at that point. The quantitiy of bottles, cans and litter that accumulated was huge. A camera would have caught several of these slobs every single night.

  10. Mike Stallard
    August 3, 2019

    Is there any money in plastic waste?
    Could there be?

    Is there any way of making plastic degradable so that it is safe for fish etc to eat?
    Is there any way to replace plastic with cardboard?

    1. agricola
      August 3, 2019

      Well we replaced cardboard and paper with plastic so reverse the process. Grow more trees and enjoy more CO2 absorbtion in the process. Win win.

    2. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      Recycle, burn it for energy, reduce the pointless excess packaging.

      Perhaps an excess packaging tax so if you are selling perhaps 100g of toothpaste with 300g + of plastic etc. packaging for example. Perhaps some rule that packaging should be less than say 2% by weight of the product or you pay a large excess tax. Or perhaps a % that varies by product type. Not that I am usually a fan of such government red tape.

      Or perhaps force manufacturers to say (in large letters) this product has lots of excess plastic packaging on it when it does. Then leaving customers to boycott such items and making producers reduce packaging. Very often the fancy packaging and branding costs far more than the product does.

    3. stred
      August 3, 2019


      1. Stred
        August 3, 2019

        The reason that councils sent waste to China was because the EU land fill tax makes it expensive to properly put it onto low land and make attractive hills, ad happens near where I stay in London. There is no market for recycling plastic except for some bottles which can be used for insulation. Our council separates the cans from a single plastic bag and incinerates the cardboard and plastic, which is a valuable firm supply of electricity. Cardboard is not suitable for wet food such as meat and fish.

    4. Man of Kent
      August 3, 2019

      Is there a market in any waste ?
      I wonder why we have all been brainwashed into separating glass from plastic from paper some collected by the council some not ?

      Here we are now to be charged for garden waste collection , but glass ,not previously collected now will be in a new black bin – for ‘free’ .

      If there is a market for each of these categories then fine ,but it would be nice to see the contribution made to costs .
      If as I suspect some is sent to landfill , others incinerated then would it not be more honest to label it that way ?

    5. Roy Grainger
      August 3, 2019

      Of course burying plastic in landfill creates a store of captured carbon so helps prevent climate change – maybe little Greta is in favour of it then – best do nothing till we’ve asked her.

      1. Fred H
        August 3, 2019

        Why hasn’t Boris given her the job ‘Environment Minister’? Gove looked impressed.!!

  11. Prigger
    August 3, 2019

    “What do you think we should all do to curb the plastic threat to the seas?”
    Given that the vast majority of British people never go near British seas, put pressure on Spain, Portugal, Greece etc to police their beaches. These countries are filthy and disgusting. “Spanish Tummy” is not caused by liquorice fields around Pontefract.

    1. Nigl
      August 3, 2019

      Having just spent seven weeks on the coast in Spain no sign of this ‘filth’ as you put it. Indeed impressively clean. Maybe your experience is from U.K. favoured resorts or maybe just churning out the usual ‘anti foreigner’ myths.

    2. agricola
      August 3, 2019

      Very little. Bizarre logic or is it satire.

  12. Shirley
    August 3, 2019

    Encouraging the reduction of the human population in the UK would be a good start, by vastly reducing immigration and benefits for large families.

    It’s humans that pollute the world, and the more humans, the greater the pollution. However, governments of the world want workers and consumers so population increases will continue to be encouraged. Eventually, there will be no ‘natural world’ left if the human population is allowed to spiral as they will take more and more land to support themselves and this will reduce wildlife, as is happening now.

    Unless the world deals with the root cause, then anything else is just tinkering at the edges. There will be minimal wildlife to protect from pollution and environmental damage. We all know the problem will be swept under the carpet though, because no country will cooperate with the others for the sake of our planet, as each will want ‘the upper hand’.

    Nature will eventually solve the problem by introducing some natural disasters and/or incurable diseases. Science can hold it at bay, for a while, but we will eventually run out of resources and money to deal with these problems.

    1. agricola
      August 3, 2019

      Spot on Shirley. For the UK a reduction from 65 million plus illegals to around 40 million would be a sensible aim over the next century. Tax could play it’ part with birth control and social stigma being attached to excessive reproduction.

    2. James Bertram
      August 3, 2019

      Well said, Shirley.
      The comment I made, late yesterday (copied below), is of relevance here:

      ‘The deduction you might make from that argument is that, instead of adopting May’s expensive Climate Change CO2 strategy (on which the jury is out?), it would be far more environmentally effective if this Government put money into reducing the human population (tax incentives, education and access to birth control), both here and abroad.

      Very few politicians have the wit or balls to propose this.

      We can stop overpopulation by dramatically reducing births around the world. Increasing numbers of resource experts agree that in order to stop global overconsumption, depletion of resources and unprecedented loss of species – and significantly reduce dire human poverty – total world population needs to be between 1 and 3 billion people.

      1. James Bertram
        August 3, 2019

        But the article above is still a good one.
        Each of us has a responsibility not to damage the environment no matter the number of humans on the planet and the irresponsibility of business and governments. And each of us should try to tackle the problem personally on a day to day basis in our own backyard – ‘to do our bit’. Too, the more the number of people who understand this, and accept this responsibility, then the more pressure will come about to change the root cause of the damage – which is human overpopulation.

        1. acorn
          August 3, 2019

          Can I recommend to the commenters on this Shirley thread, the 1973 film “Soylent Green” It is based in the year 2022 and I reckon it is the ultimate solution to population recycling.

      2. Dennis
        August 3, 2019

        These comments almost stopped me from saying, fewer prople = less pollution plus the solving of perhaps all existential problems.

        That so many commented on population in this blog is amazing as there have been many occasions to comment so but I never see it except my own.

        1. acorn
          August 3, 2019

          Dennis, Brexit has always and only ever been about immigrants, particularly the non-protestant non-white variety that “leavers” claim are overwhelming our hospitals; social housing; benefits system, etc etc.

          The ERG/IEA “leave” campaign cleverly used the above to promote; sovereignty; making our own laws; controlling our own money; controlling immigration. This, very successfully conned 52% of our largely under educated population, to vote for what they wanted.

          It has been a complete “snow job”; camouflaging the ERG/IEA prime purpose of making the UK, (post an essential no-deal Brexit), and its offshore territories; the money laundering, tax dodging capital of the planet.

          1. stred
            August 4, 2019

            Bollards. Most of us have foreign wives and/or friends and would gladly trade all the layabouts in the ‘white variety’ category for hardworking intelligent Europeans if we could exchange them and keep the population numbers down. But, of course, we can’t, so Brexit and a points based system with welfare reforms is next best.

          2. NickC
            August 4, 2019

            Acorn, No, Brexit is about who governs us. Brexit is an exercise in self-determination – a UN human right.

    3. backofanenvelope
      August 3, 2019

      Spot on Shirley! At one time, population control was a hot topic – now no one talks about it; I wonder why? Most of this country’s problems stem from the ruling class policy of importing an EXTRA 250,000 plus people every year. Why don’t they just stop doing it?

    4. Christine
      August 3, 2019

      Well said. Population growth together with an increase in the western type lifestyle means this problem is set to become much worse. There has been a net increase of over 3 million people in Nigeria alone so far this year. Unfortunately discouraging large families is a taboo subject for politicians. So don’t expect improvement any time soon. There is too much virtue signalling with little real action to tackle this problem. If the growth in the human population continues, we are all doomed.

      1. NickC
        August 4, 2019

        Christine said: “discouraging large families is a taboo subject for politicians”. Far from it. Western politicians and bureaucrats have actively sought to limit population growth in third world countries (especially India and China) for decades. Forced abortions and sterilisations are the norm for much Western aid.

    5. Pragmatist
      August 3, 2019

      “Nature will eventually solve the problem by introducing some natural disasters…”
      It has:confusion.
      We did not vote for plastic bags. We did not campaign for plastic bags. Now, somehow, it is our problem.

    6. NickC
      August 4, 2019

      Shirley, Without mass immigration most European countries would be experiencing a shrinking population. Indeed it has been noticed around the world that increased wealth, particularly the introduction of pensions and insurance, goes hand in hand with reducing fecundity.

      So the best course of action is to help other countries grow their wealth – promoting coal fired electricity generation being an example – rather than imposing sterilization and abortion by sneering elite authoritarians from the West.

  13. Julie Williams
    August 3, 2019

    Like you, I was taught to take my rubbish home but then, I was taught to take responsibility for my life in general.
    People seem to know their rights nowadays but refuse to grow up and behave like adults .
    We also live in a world where hypocrisy is becoming compulsory: go to a protest or festival and listen to some celebrity with an enormous “carbon footprint” whinging about how we are killing the planet and you’ll feel so righteous….and then leave all your rubbish behind you!
    It seems that the only real way to hammer the message home is to make people pay!
    What is all this nonsense with bottled water anyway when you’re already paying for water of a higher quality through your tap in the UK?

    1. Dennis
      August 3, 2019

      ‘What is all this nonsense with bottled water anyway when you’re already paying for water of a higher quality through your tap in the UK?’

      It may be of higher quality but it doesn’t taste as pure water. I can taste something in my tap water which should not be there (not chlorine) which I don’t find in bottled water – 30p /2 litres from Lidl. I don’t like buyimg bottles water and rarely do – I don’t taste the impurities while using it in tea, coffee and cooking but I know it’s there.

    2. NickC
      August 4, 2019

      Julie Williams, The taste quality of tap water varies from region to region in the UK. All of it has chlorine in – absolutely essential to keep the water system disease free (no anti-chlorine-washed-chicken ignoramuses here please!). However, unlike with chickens, the chlorine in tap water can be tasted. The cheapest solution is to leave an open container of tap water in your fridge, and some of the chlorine will degas over a few hours.

  14. agricola
    August 3, 2019

    In answer to your final question I would suggest the following. I am told that waste material tends to collect in places where the oceans swirl, such as the Sargasso Sea. Satellite photography could probably identify exactly where in our oceans.

    Manufacture super tanker size ships that could hoover up this waste in vast quantities. Process it on the ship and return it to shore as recycled product.

    I would add that if all the alchohol we drink has to come in glass bottles and aluminium cans then convert the whole of liquid sales to the same. That way the containers are either returnable for a discount or recyclable.

    Sell fresh food unwrapped in bulk, providing paper bags for containment. Pre-packing is mostly for the convenience of the retailer and has to be paid for by the consumer.

    There are three ideas for you. Prevent the lobbying establishment from blocking them.

    1. 'None of the above'.
      August 3, 2019

      My Wife and I agree with your point about food packaging.

      We have found a good Greengrocer a short distance away from our favourite Supermarket from which we now buy all our fruit and vegetables. Only the Sweet Peppers from Spain are wrapped in plastic, everything else is unwrapped. Paper bags are available for the customers but you must bring your own carrier bag (this not an inconvenience).

      The flavour is far superior to what’s available in our Supermarket and I would say that the vast majority is grown locally (Jersey Royals and citrus fruits excepted).
      Nor do I think that our shopping bill is noticeably different.

      Vote with your wallet, it is the only power that the consumer has.

    2. Kevin Lohse
      August 3, 2019

      Retailers pack food in plastic to prevent wholesale theft, and contamination by nutters.

    3. Stred
      August 4, 2019

      Perhaps a net, with mesh small enough to avoid catching fish, could be placed across the mouth of rivers and a boat could hoover us all the rubbish floating into the sea before it caused the problem.

  15. Pragmatist
    August 3, 2019

    Migrants brought in my the Royal Navy from the Channel should be encouraged to dump their plastic water wings, plastic bags containing the most horrible food imaginable and plastic cotton buds in a specially designated waste bin in Dover. Navy personnel should be trained in plastic bag disposal as they have nothing better to do.

  16. J Bush
    August 3, 2019

    This is a lucrative business for the manufacturers of these plastic containers. However, as you point out, alternatives are available which are less damaging to the environment and these businesses could adapt to accommodate this.

    What irritates me is the size and amount of packaging used for a single food item. We know this is merely a marketing ploy designed to make the item look attractive and far larger than it actually is. Perhaps this is also an area where businesses can be encouraged to consider reducing the size and the quantity of packaging.

    I for one, would appreciate this, as my ‘recycling’ waste is substantially more than the waste that goes into into general household rubbish.

  17. J Bush
    August 3, 2019

    I sincerely hope your proposal of ” We also have to work internationally on the problem as most of the litter in the oceans does not come from the UK” will not include yet more more taxation.

    If it costs money to do this, as I expect it will, then take the total cost, including attendees flights, hotel stays and expenses going to these international meetings out of the foreign aid budget. As politicians seem determined not to reduce it.

  18. Lifelogic
    August 3, 2019

    Priti Patel, has said she wants criminals to “literally feel terror” at the thought of breaking the law. … “The Conservative Party is the party of law and order,” Ms Patel said.

    Well that will be a massive and welcome U turn Priti. Cresida Dick is more interested in making sure her force reflect London’s “diversity” (of colour, sexuality, reglion, skin shade, (hight, hair and eye colour & number of tatoos perhaps too) than in recruiting the best people, getting them to do the right things thus deterring and catching criminals. The police even publically announce they have given up on many crimes like shop lifting of less than £100 (that much be a great way to frighten the criminals). This £100 is per crime it seems so one assumes so you could perhaps do quite £10,000 in a days “work”.

    Plus we have the worse prosecution rates ever and huge misdirection of police to totally the wrong areas like suppressing free speech or referring Boris to her hate crime “experts”.

    “The Conservative Party is the party of law and order,” Ms Patel said. Well it certainly should be but certainly was not under May as PM or Home Secretary.

    Well it should also be a party of law and order, economic competence, low taxation, efficient public services, freedom and choice, minimal regulation, fair competition in say banking, a sound energy policy, real democracy and decent infrastructure. Alas since the disasterous John Major it has been not one of these things.

    Major destroyed the party’s reputation for (relative) economic competence. The party has abjectly failed on all of the above. We have for example the highest and most absurd tax system for 50 years for example with a tax code six time the size it was when Gordon Brown become chancellor. As an excellent leader in the The Times pointed out yesterday. Also one of the worse health care systems going for such a relatively wealthy nation.

  19. Everhopeful
    August 3, 2019

    Who asked for supermarkets and plastic bags? No one.
    Who allowed supermarkets to bank land and build more and more outlets?
    Who brought an end to paper carrier bags and proper shopping bags?
    ( presumably in greedy terror of people filching from supermarkets).
    Politicians…that’s who.
    If they wanted to ban plastic bags they could do it tomorrow.
    But they won’t cos there are too many vested interests.
    The amount of packaging around goods is a total disgrace but bizarrely we have a whole industry based on MAKING PLASTIC PACKETS…they didn’t think that one through did they?
    The supermarket system is based around the use of plastic,
    The newish home delivery system is too.
    And the much vaunted take away food trade.
    The waste disposal system ditto 😂…pink, white or black…you could not make it up.
    None of which of course will get any better as the population continues to soar.
    Leftists love to denigrate the past…let them try it with packaging. Goods wrapped in cabbage ( and other) leaves, one small sheet of white paper, old newspaper, reusable baskets….no plastic!! And proper shops where the shopkeepers understood their locally sourced products.
    We expect to see a few parliamentarians on the beaches with their litter spikes this summer then?

    1. Everhopeful
      August 3, 2019

      Oh and one of the best anti plastic shops were the so called “ Bin” shops…think that was what they were called.
      Goods in huge bins. You took a paper bag and helped yourself with a scoop…weighed it etc.
      Done away with under the guise of Health and Safety ( like trad markets) prob because they threatened the supermarkets. But they vanished along with their lack of packaging. ( See how our craven leaders think things through!).
      I believe that in the face of anti plastic one big supermarket has opened a similar shop…in one of its better behaved areas.

  20. margaret
    August 3, 2019

    Plastic containers are a big threat to the environment and whoever tries to belittle the significance of plastic hazards needs to think deeper. This problem will not go away without individual responsibility and global accountability.

    Living on my own I find the plastic containers with inexpensive salads in easy to use and then of course the protein such as salmon flakes can all be taken to work and lunch is ready in a jiffy. The the flavoured waters lets the customer have sugar free fizzy drinks without monotonous water but it is all plastic. I would just be as happy with reconstituted card board and not waxed so the correct dustbin could be used.

    I work in an area where waste paper , bottles, cans , take away wrappings are flung on the floor on public paths and by ways. Improper use of dustbins where residents are too lazy to separate their waste is rife and rats shoot in and out of back doors for a ready meal. The rats are well fed , fat and big and basic understanding of general , personal and public hygiene is not understood.This is a slovenly culture which has not been addressed or criticised strongly enough. The councils will not take appropriate action to curb this sort of behaviour.

  21. Kevin
    August 3, 2019

    This seems to be one of those movements whose proponents alter
    our everyday lifestyles by sheer force of interest in the subject. Who is going to
    make a mass counter-protest to “save our straws”? I would still like to know how
    many people would support an intrusive ban rather than allowing the market to
    yield to better products. Off-topic: are you ever going to discuss civil liberties?

  22. Fedupsoutherner
    August 3, 2019

    Throwing litter away is not a trivial thing as some on your blog seem to imply John. I am sickened when I see the damage our waste is doing to the natural environment and the creatures who are unfortunate enough to come across our filth. I have noticed that some supermarkets are better than others when it comes to recyclable packaging so more can be done in that area. Why do we have to ship our waste to China or other foreign places? We should provide the facilities to deal with it here especially when we know much of it will be dumped in the oceans. The UK is a dump. Much of the rubbish comes from passing cars or overflowing bins. Our refuse is put out in open bins for collection. When it is windy much of it ends up in the street where it is left by passers by or indeed the householder that put it out in the first place. We need to educate the young too. I see schoolchildren coming home after popping into the local shop for sweets and biscuits and then watch them drop the packaging when they’ve finished. My husband and I pick up litter from our roads while we walk to exercise our dog. Every little helps. I am sure much of the litter is dumped off boats too. Spain, Italy and other countries are no better. I cant see the attraction of visiting many places in the Carribean, Asia or Africa when it is like walking in a dump. We all need to be aware of what damage we are doing. I like the idea of a deposit on bottles. We had it many years ago on glass bottles. Storage of such could be a problem for some outlets however unless there was a frequent pick up service and with the councils taking longer to pick up domestic waste I can’t see this bring the case. In parts of the States people are responsible for set lengths of the roads they live on and its spotless. Heavy fines are issued for litter dropping and it seems to work. We have become lazy and inconsiderate and it must change starting with ourselves and efucating others. What a sad world we live in.

  23. Dave Andrews
    August 3, 2019

    A few years ago, on a rare trip to London, I remember trying to find a waste bin at Waterloo Station, but there seemed to be none. I guess this was because of the fear of terrorism. I believe the arrangement has changed now with see-through waste bins, but not before this public campaign to encourage littering has changed people’s habits.
    I believe too there has been a campaign by local councils to encourage fly-tipping, by introducing charges for householders to use the waste recycling centres for some items.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      Indeed the councils attempts to encourage fly-tipping have been very successful I see. They are very good at that and at mugging motorists.

  24. MikeP
    August 3, 2019

    Having seen photos of clogged river estuaries in India and Malaysia, the answer surely is to lobby those countries to do more to recycle their own waste. I’ve even read that some of these countries who have contracts to recycle our waste just put it into their own landfill which inevitably gets mismanaged and/or blown into the sea.
    Like Climate Change, it’s one thing to signal our own virtue and break our economy by saying we’ll do more than everyone else but sometimes every one else needs to catch up !

  25. BJC
    August 3, 2019

    The UK taxpayer is obliged to pay billions in Foreign Aid each year, so perhaps we should have prioritised spending it on projects providing drinkable tap water, instead of spending obscene amounts on “education” and other dubious projects.

    How many plastic water bottles does each individual throw away when abroad because there’s no viable alternative? I doubt much of this particular plastic mountain is recycled.

  26. cynic
    August 3, 2019

    It may not be wise to rush into panic mode, mainly on the basis of one T V programme. We may get a scenario similar to the Global Warming hysteria.
    Careful, objective, evaluation of the situation should be a first step. Jumping on to bandwagons usually ends badly.

  27. Lifelogic
    August 3, 2019

    Some excellent comment pieces in the Telegraph today all four are spot on:-

    Grief-stricken Remainers have poisoned our politics with their Brexit despair
    Their latest undemocratic gambit is to claim that the Prime Minister lacks a mandate for no deal

    We must safeguard the presumption of innocence – or face trial by the mob
    With Carl Beech sentenced and Mrs May out of No 10, the idea of reputation should be restored
    Charles Moore

    A modest proposal to put an end to the university degree racket
    Madeline Grant


    Why Brexit will free us as the Reformation did
    Getting rid of the shackles that bind us will release our outward-looking entrepreneurial spirit
Duncan Smith

    1. margaret howard
      August 3, 2019


      “Why Brexit will free us as the Reformation did
      Getting rid of the shackles that bind us will release our outward-looking entrepreneurial spirit
Duncan Smith”

      He’s obviously unaware that the Reformation (German), Enlightenment (French), Renaissance (Italy) and many more ideas that made the modern world all came to us from the Continent.

      Reply The English and Welsh Reformation was a domestic movement led by our King to renounce the authority of a foreign power, the Papacy and its system if Papal edicts and courts.

      1. margaret howard
        August 4, 2019

        Reply to reply:

        By ‘our King’ you refer of course to Henry VIII who sided with the pope against Martin Luther’s German reformation and was rewarded by him with the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ FOR defending the supremacy of the pope NOT renouncing it as you claim.
        It was only after the pope refused to sanction his divorce that Henry turned against papal Rome

  28. Dominic
    August 3, 2019

    I’ll stick to Malthus. His insights are of greater relevance and significance than those of a political class whose only concern is electoral not environmental

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      August 3, 2019

      I am a big fan if Malthus but the hand wringers are determined we should fight his checks

    2. Dennis
      August 3, 2019

      ‘I’ll stick to Malthus’ – I agree – he was correct of course.

      Those that say he was wrong is like saying, in the future, thoughts on global warming etc. were wrong back then as now our techno fixes have solved it.

  29. Old Albion
    August 3, 2019

    JR, yours and Attenboroughs message doesn’t seem to have reached the sun seekers who attended Margate beach during the recent hot spell.
    However, as appalling and avoidable their mess was. The biggest threat comes from Asia and Africa, where the rivers are used as dumps.

    1. Stevez
      August 3, 2019

      Not so- not so! plastic is not manufactured in African countries, nor indeed in many Asian countries either, it is manufactured in the rich western countries who export their plactics there in various guises to hold western consumer goods. If the Africans are not aware of the damage being done to their environment we can hardly blame the poor bloody native- let the blame fall where it should with the fat cat west.

      On another note they do not msnufacture guns and explosives in Africa or the Middle East either- all imported from countries who should know better

      1. sm
        August 3, 2019

        Actually, Stevez, S Africa at least has a strong arms manufacturing base, and although there is too much use of plastic here (which is being addressed), much of it in the food industry helps to keep products fresh for longer – helpful in countries where the poor have no refrigeration.

      2. NickC
        August 4, 2019

        Stevez, Rubbish (!?!!). Of course plastics are manufactured in African countries. Examples: Coca Cola produces over 250 million plastic bottles annually in East Africa alone; plastic bags and recycling are an issue in Kenya; the plastic industry in South Africa contributes 1.9% to GDP; etc.

    2. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      Nor indeed the people who go to that (BBC favourite) festival Glastonbury covered in refuse and countless discarded tents and other detritus. They are do as I say & not as I do types in the Prince Charles, Emma Thompson and Prince Harry mode it seems. Charles with his £1 million plus a year spent on his private transport.

      Helicopters, private jets, huge houses for us but you cannot have to cut back on your week’s holiday in Spain.

  30. Anonymous
    August 3, 2019

    Open top recycling bins put more into our estuaries than anything else.

  31. Roy Grainger
    August 3, 2019

    One of the most numerous items of plastic waste in the River Thames are cotton bud sticks – replacing these with wooden alternatives seems sensible. A range of other small-scale initiatives is preferable to some large ambitious overall plan.

  32. tim
    August 3, 2019

    when I was at school 1960s we had water fountains in the play ground. Because of health & safety, the kids now all have to bring their own plastic botttled water. After a school even last week I noticed hundreds of discarded water bottles plus all the plastic packaging from fast foods. People of our generation will go to great lengths to avoid littering (this was a crime in the 1960s). We need a advertising campaign again, educating people, and make it a crime again to litter. PS in Australia banned all plastic bags 2009 as son as this problem was reported

    1. Lifelogic
      August 3, 2019

      Why health and safely? Is it because some one hits you on the back as you drink and you break a tooth? Health and safely is usually just an excuse for doing nothing or doing something rather stupid I find.

      Can they not have a reusable water bottle and some tap (or water dispenser) then? Or is that deemed dangerous too? They might drown in the sink perhaps? Or slip on some spilled water. The litigation culture does far more harm than good so often. Lots of well paid parasitic jobs created though.

  33. henryS
    August 3, 2019

    One of the biggest pollutants in the world today is the amount of micro particles of plastic coming from our domestic household washing machines. The particles which are so small are washed out and eventually collect in river estuaries and in the seas near heavily populated centers. From there large ocean going ships suck it in as part of water ballast. Some ships can take in 20,000 tonnes ballast at a time, these ships then sail the oceans and are required by IMO laws and US Coast Guard to exchange this ballast out at sea for fresh water ballast.

    Thing is a lot of small mid ocean fish 200 to 300 meters down being night feeders come up and take the plastic, other bigger fish then take the small fish and so it gets into the food chain

    1. agricola
      August 3, 2019

      Okay, ban micro plastics in all domestic and personal products. Do not make them, do not import them. Just revert to the time before they existed.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 3, 2019

        Oh the politicians in general are just virtue signalling most do not really care at all so they will not doing anything dramatic like that.

        The same with Climate Change – they do not even ban private jets or flying first or business class! They just erect vast pointless wind farms with tax payers money to farm the subsidies!

    2. Stevez
      August 3, 2019

      The reason ships are bound by law to exchange water ballast in mid ocean is largely because the US and EU countries scientific and maritime bodies decided between themselves that for environmental reasons they would not allow water with micro organisms, bacteria etc from one side of the world to contaminate/ upset the ecology on the other side. All of which has now turned out to be shortsighted because between them they are now have laws in place that guarantee to pollute the mid oceans with micro particles of plastic fray from household washing machines instead- Oh what a tangled web we weave.

  34. henryS
    August 3, 2019

    for fresh Sea Water ballast

  35. matthu
    August 3, 2019

    Cleaning up plastic waste in the ocean is far less imminent and a problem than cleaning up politics.

    1. ukretired123
      August 3, 2019

      Integrity is the key cornerstone of leadership.
      Incredible that the Conservatives and Labour and Liberals MP overlooked this simple requirement, especially not honouring the Referendum for nearly 4 years!
      Honesty is the best policy.

  36. APL
    August 3, 2019

    JR: “What do you think we should all do to curb the plastic threat to the seas?”

    Revoke the European Union directive on landfil and stop sending our rubbish to China where they throw it in the Ocean.

  37. Alec
    August 3, 2019

    Perhaps if government stopped it’s ludicrous and potentially disastrous anti CO2 mania and concentrated on actual pollution from industry and agriculture we might get some improvement. As there is so much money in the climate change BS that is, I accept, very unlikely.

    1. APL
      August 4, 2019

      Alec: “As there is so much money in the climate change BS that is, ”

      It’s all ‘government’ money, too.

  38. Fred H
    August 3, 2019

    There are very clever large sized floating devices to capture floating articles in the sea. Surely a big investment in the companies who build them, and investing in numbers of them near our best beaches will contribute to clearing rubbish. Councils should do more to publicise volunteering to collect rubbish in the parks, streets, shopping areas.

  39. Jack
    August 3, 2019

    The change in public perception of plastic use is welcomed. It is a scandal that eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, though 95 per cent of it comes from just ten rivers, all in Asia and Africa, so that’s where the main effort is needed.

  40. Dominic
    August 3, 2019

    We need articles focusing on tackling criminal waste in the State-public sector but then that’s a major issue that’s politically inconvenient to confront so eh, let’s turn a blind eye to it as transfer the cost of that waste onto the private sector through higher taxes, more regulation and increasing impositions.

    Normal people outside of the vested interest that is the British State (State activities that produce ZERO income and enjoy a dependent existence) are aware of the obvious apartheid system that’s been deliberately and strategically built up since 1997 as vile Labour went about building their Gramsci inspired client state while the morally bankrupt Tories flayed around like beached whales.

    And now Labour control all those levers of power that impose themselves to maintain Labour’s position and indeed the political status quo against upstarts like the BP, even to the extent of turning a convenient blind eye to corruption and criminality

    So articles like this are mere virtue signalling, empty exercises in pandering

    The State and its culture that elevates waste (spending to expand budgets year on year…the scam of public sector deceit) above efficiency is directly responsible for much of the abuse of scarce resources. Parliament halting the use of bottled water is akin to sticking your finger in a Geyser to halt its explosive, upward trajectory, pointless and meaningless

    Our prosperity is directly dependent on the exploitation of our planet’s natural resources. All we have and all we rely on for our daily conveniences is a direct consequence of extraction from the earth

    The expanding human footprint across the earth will continue and will be the ultimate determinant of the direction in which we travel along the road to sustainability.

    Don’t deny the truth. Tell it as it is. I see little value in addressing any concerns that people may have by tinkering at the edges

  41. Gareth Warren
    August 3, 2019

    I won’t couch the problem in the langauge of enviromentalism because the answer then is that we cannot solve it since the vast majority of the plastic originates beyond our borderes.

    But if we describe it as a resource problem we can minimise it, plastic will economically cost more when we reduce our usage of oil. This we must do since our deposits in the North sea are long past peak production (1999) and foreign oil is going up in price.

    I would like to see far less of it used in packaging and schemes like glass bottle recycling encouraged, we can vary taxes such as VAT once we are out of the EU to encourage this.

    Relaxing pointless health and safety should also be done, the blister packs for pills could be replaced by reusable bottles for example. I have also read the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh commented that there was no increase in infections in Ukraine where surgical implements were washed and reused than in the UK where they are thrown away.

    In all these cases we can help the enviroment by reducing our costs, that seems a much bhetter argument then the current “climate change” agenda in government coupled to a open door immigration policy that makes our enviroment worse.

  42. Jane Morris-Jones
    August 3, 2019

    Culture is extraordinarily hard to change deliberately. Sadly, many UK children are not taught when young never to litter as Scandinavian children are, whose pristine countries shame us by comparison. We need a sticks-and carrots approach from government, public campaigns, education programmes in schools and zero tolerance policies from councils for local fly tipping, etc.Somehow parents need to be convinced how important it is inculcate this in their children.

  43. bigneil
    August 3, 2019

    On American tv shows any shopping from a supermarket seems to be in those large brown (paper?) bags. But why why why don’t they have handles? Why so difficult to carry – probably one burst one day and the supermarket got sued for PTSD

    Single use plastic – bin liners? – Something actually bought – – -to throw away.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2019

      Dog poo bags too.

  44. BR
    August 3, 2019

    To me, the plastics issue is proven science, climate change most certainly is not.

    Committing to a £1Tn project for zero emissions is lunacy, based on no real evidence.

    Note that correlation is not causation – and they don’t even know if there’s anything being ’caused’, any temperature fluctuations could be for many reasons, if they are happening at all. Examples include planetary motions that change on cycles of tens of thousands of years and are know to be the cause of ice ages and thaws.

    The nonsense talked about ice melt shows that climate change ‘scientists’ don;t understand the basics. I think I learned of Archimedes’ Principle prior to GCE O-levels: a floating body displaces its weight, a submerged body displaces its volume.

    Therefore floating ice displaces the same as when it’s in liquid form, since it weights the same. Almost all of our ice is floating, including the Arctic. The only ice that may be on rock is the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps and some glaciers (which make up a relatively small proportion) and are not necessarily reaching the sea.

    Further, since we started measuring the Antarctic cap in 2013, it has been increasing in size (for reasons as yet unknown). Even if there was melt there, it would certainly not all melt and much of it would be trapped in ice pools and rivers on the surface.

    This is why we have not seen sea levels rise, despite all the scare mongering on TV showing Arctic ice sheets melting away – Archimedes will be turning in his grave.

    Do the science PROPERLY, then devise any solutions that may be necessary.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2019

      “Climate Change” is just weasel words. Climate always changes and always will do. What the alarmists mean, but tend not say is runaway, irreversible, manmade global warming into to a new version hell fire on earth and it is all our fault.

      It is clearly a new religion not science with all the usual, religious tropes. Give us you money (taxes) today and we will some you and your children from this new hell on earth.

  45. BillM
    August 3, 2019

    Re plastic bags. Some time ago when shopping in a US Supermarket I found that their free carry-out bags were all made of brown paper and no doubt, easily disposable and quickly degradable. So why has this type not been in produced to the UK? And in the rest of the world?

  46. Sue Doughty
    August 3, 2019

    Advertisements for products that are to be flushed or disposed of should say not, “How clean do you feel after using the loo?” but say how long each item takes to biodegrade if it ended up in waste water of a bin. Tell us what it is made of.

  47. Sue Doughty
    August 3, 2019

    There is a report in todays Telegraph about an Australian research project that has made a manganese material that collected microplastics from sea water and turns it into oxygen

  48. Richie Keen
    August 3, 2019

    We have already modularized pallets and containers and supermarkets did the same with boxes used with short life foods. All of these are reusable and have a market value.

    They would not be dumped into the sea or anywhere else as they have an asset value.

    We need to extend this to all other packaging, making it a re-usable tradeable commodity.

    I wrote to some in government, academia and business on how this can be done but have had no positive response.’

    Such a scheme would not only reduce pollution and drastically reduce land-fill, it would also reduce costs for all of us and improve our productivity.

  49. Mark
    August 3, 2019

    In our modern world it is apparently CCTV that is responsible littering to judge from the signs that exhort them – “CCTV cameras take your litter home”. Perhaps the instruction should be directed at people instead.

    Virtue signalling bans on trivial volumes of plastic are worse than pointless. Most of them result in much higher energy use and cost replacements that probably cause more environmental damage when the product life cycle is properly accounted for. Better waste disposal is the key, and nowhere more important than in the mainly Asian countries that are responsible for the majority of plastic finding its way to the oceans. We cannot legislate for that.

    High standards of litter control are seen as a luxury in poorer countries: indeed, in many of them poorer people pick over waste dumps in search of items they can re-use. Singapore is outstanding in litter prevention, because it can afford it.
    Improved living standards are key in driving the desire for a cleaner environment. It comes late in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I

  50. Pragmatist
    August 3, 2019

    Building a dam blocking the natural flow of water is Climate Change.
    200 years later it leaking a bit is Climate Change.
    Having houses below the dam which were not there 200 years ago is Climate Change
    The BBC and Sky News are puddled.

    1. Pragmatist
      August 3, 2019

      No one knows yet if Climate Change fanatics are responsible for Whalley Dam
      The dam was built of clay. Limestone and lime dissolves clay.
      Water is running over limestone, farmers use lime as do gardeners as do people laying concrete for drives, houses, etc
      ACID RAIN stops or at least by balance stops the lime from destroying the dam
      The Climate change fanatics should be arrested pending further investigation by proper scientists not those financed by Climate Change fanatics and governments

      1. Pragmatist
        August 3, 2019

        Good luck with the foundation of Parliament.
        Good luck with the foundation of London.

  51. David
    August 3, 2019

    I am not sure recycling is the answer. Why does it use less Carbon dioxide than buring plastic waste for rubbish?
    I would love to see the calculations behind this conclusion
    I don’t think that everything we send abroad to recycle does get recyled – I would not be surprised if some gets dumped

    1. Richie Keen
      August 4, 2019

      Agree. Recycling is wasteful and has been over-hyped

  52. cornishstu
    August 3, 2019

    Some Japanese scientist discovered bacteria they named Ideonella sakainesis back in 2016 that eat PET type plastics so all may not be doom and gloom. The bottom line is to minimise use and prevent them from entering into the environment and that could be achieved by legislation to force companies to change their packaging materials.

  53. Nordisch-geo-climber
    August 3, 2019

    Ocean plastic mostly comes from about 10 rivers in Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Asia. Plastic that we collect here onshore UK and on beaches is throwaway litter. There is nothing wrong with using plastic, it is the littering with it that causes the problem.

  54. Pragmatist
    August 3, 2019

    OMG Sky News has just interviewed a professor (expert). He hasn’t got a clue. He thinks it just rained a lot. Poor education in our universities.

    If our Establishment does not stop promoting loony science in the shape of Green Ideology we will in fact drown, suffer starvation and be wiped off the planet by Good Intention.

    The Science is actually easy to understand but Ideology prevents the like of otherwise intelligent people from seeing it.

    1. Pragmatist
      August 3, 2019

      I’ll stop now. If I go on I will develop my own ideology to ineffectually counter green ideology. I would be in an, ‘impasse’. “Supposedly coined by Voltaire as a euphemism for cul de sac.” It is the cul-de-sac, dammit, that is part of the problem.
      The EU does have a minority of thinkers and have managed to haul part of the truth on to dry land by placing the notion of ‘leaving certain areas to naturally flood’ but have had to base their ideas to feed the Greens on the basis “It is good for froggies and mothies” and such.
      Flooding is natural to these islands. It is good!
      Making an ideology of oneself is an occupational hazard for persons of superior intelligence set, like myself.

      1. Pragmatist
        August 3, 2019

        mmm We British could encourage that species (as its singular ‘specie’ has been hunted down and made extinct contextually, robbed of its British natural environment ) by lower types. Of frog.
        Sell them to the French. We British always knew if we could just put our finger on it that France is good for something.

  55. DaveK
    August 3, 2019

    Virtue signalling in my view is a very suspicious trait which normally heralds awful unintended consequences. In my youth, towns had incinerators to burn rubbish. however it was then decided we should bury rubbish to prevent the “awful polluting smoke” and eventually when we had run out of places to bury stuff we transport it half way across the globe where the results are horrendous. Nowadays we are building German designed incinerators to burn waste, create waste heat and provide electricity. Instead of banning things like diesel cars and incinerators, a little innovation brings great dividends. Climate change, diesel cars, plastic bags will always be improved if allowed, look at AdBlue, biodegradeable plastic etc. As a potential example I have just seen someone down the road pick up their dogs mess with a plastic bag, wonder if in the future they will just leave it.

  56. Jeff Palin
    August 3, 2019

    Waste dumped along roadsides is mostly from fast food chains and it’s currently very difficult/expensive to catch the culprits.
    Each piece of packaging should have recycle code that is registered electronically to the purchaser via their credit card, card number or other similr means.
    The idea is to make the packaging traceable so the culprits can be fined.

  57. Fran
    August 3, 2019

    What’s this- is the whole country in collective denial? 80+ days to go to crash and the topic today is about plastic pollution?

    1. NickC
      August 4, 2019

      Fran, I suspect that the “whole country” is not physically in motion at all, so will not “crash”. Geologists may quibble but the motion is imperceptible. The country is not leaving Europe, we are simply ceasing to be governed by eurocrats in Brussels.

      Yes there will be some changes – that was the purpose of voting Leave – but nothing that the rest of the world doesn’t already cope with. Why do you suppose we are uniquely incapable of running our own nation?

  58. steve
    August 3, 2019


    “The plastic in the oceans comes from people deliberately discarding plastic waste as litter.”

    Firstly I thank you for your attention to this serious problem.

    However, I must point out that there was a recent expose on where the plastic is actually coming from.

    As it turns out, certain Asian countries were taking contracts (and money) for the bulk disposal of plastic waste from EU and other countries.

    Now, given that the countries disposing just want rid…..no one bothered to vet the contractors to see if their methods were appropriate and safe.

    Those countries were exposed as being responsible for then dumping the waste into the sea while a blind eye was turned.

    ……and we are talking of millions of tons.

    Hypothetically, JR, if you contracted and paid me to dispose of your household rubbish, and you discovered I had fly tipped the whole lot where it was causing harm to the environment and wildlife, whom would you hold responsible ? Yourself for not vetting my capability to dispose safely ? Yourself for creating waste in the first place ? or me for getting your money in my pocket as the one and only priority without so much as a thought for the environmental consequences ?

    We had a similar problem with mercury batteries – the EU banned them because of toxic waste issues in Asia, yet, the UK had but a minuscule of mercury discharge of even the cleanest countries.

    Do you not think it’s about time these countries were forced to clean the environment, rather than penalising us ?

    1. NickC
      August 4, 2019

      Steve, That is my understanding too: that EU countries were shipping their waste to Asia/Africa (primarily because of EU waste laws); and the receiving countries were dumping “our” waste rather than recycling it.

      It is an example of bad EU law (another was the car emissions scandal) – over draconian laws causing people to by-pass or ignore them because the laws were just not practical.

  59. M Davis
    August 3, 2019

    Try telling the schoolchildren to dispose of their litter in the many litterbins that are placed around the school and town. Why aren’t the local media following these schoolchildren on their travels to and from school? Because no one could care less, that’s why!

    I live on a school route and see every day the litter that they drop. Where is the local Council? Nowhere to be seen!

    1. steve
      August 4, 2019

      M Davis

      “Why aren’t the local media following these schoolchildren on their travels to and from school? Because no one could care less, that’s why!”

      There are also rules and laws concerning such activities, understandably so.

      The problem is marxist teachers – if it aint on the curriculum or advantageous to our left wing socialist cause – we don’t teach it.

      And of course just plain and simple ‘bad parenting’.

      When was the last time you saw a minor give up their seat for a pensioner ?

      1. stred
        August 4, 2019

        Teachers have been telling children that they have to carry a little bottle of water around all the time in order to stay alive. They use them for water fights on the way home and some drop them. My son is nearly 30 and still carries his.
        When I explain that beer has water in it and is a more enjoyable substitute for the compulsory two pints of H2O, he argues.

  60. […] Tackling plastic waste in the oceans – John Redwood […]

  61. Jim Whitehouse
    August 3, 2019

    Any reasonable person would like to see a large reduction in plastic litter particularly in the oceans. Feelgood measures and virtue signalling will not help and will do actual harm.
    90% of the oceanic plastic comes from 10 rivers – the worst are the Niger and the Ganges and none of the others are in the west.
    Reducing plastic use in Europe will cost money and even lives but have negligible impact – there are now cases of food poisoning through use of unwashed reusable shopping bags.
    Why not spend our money buying plastic waste from poor people in places which dump it? Rather than wasting money on pointless domestic schemes, why not use it to insentivise the people where the problem exists? Lets stop pretending to recycle the plastic we have expensively collected just to send it to places that will dump it.
    Landfill is not a perfect solution but is a relatively innocuous way of storing waste. Should the stored waste ever become sufficiently scarce, technology will develop to turn those stores into mines.

  62. BR
    August 3, 2019

    Off topic:

    Why is the £39bn assumed? It was a *potential* political settlement, as part of May’s *draft* WA capitulation.

    The fact is that we are not responsible for their future projects, pensions etc. We should offer to put any claims to arbitration, as is normal between States, and we also have claims of our own such as our share of bank capitalisation. See analysis by Lord Lilley.

    So… why is Johnson threatening to ‘withhold’ it? He should be making the point that it is not due at all.

  63. Dennisa
    August 4, 2019

    What do you think we should all do to curb the plastic threat to the seas?

    Use EfW High temperature incineration.

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