“Miracle material!” says Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While this may be true in some cases, the continued ambiguity towards plastic in our society is clear. And the damage is devastating.
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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2018 report tallies the devastation that plastic is wreaking across the planet, and South Africa does not fare well.
Plastic, when it leaks into the environment, causes havoc. Bags block waterways and exacerbate natural disasters, and clogged sewers are breeding grounds for pests and mosquitoes, increasing the transmission of vector-borne diseases such as malaria.
A seal found in the Cape Town harbour was rescued by Two Oceans Aquarium staff. The aquarium’s seal team has developed several rescue methods, including snorkeling beneath the piers and snipping the nooses while affected seals bask in the sun. Sometimes a seal is so badly injured that it’s necessary to hold it down to cut the noose.
A pelican, strangled by plastic, was found in a Durban estuary following a flood.
An African penguin trapped in plastic
A loggerhead hatchling brought to the Two Oceans Aquarium Turtle Rehabilitation and Release Programme, died. A necropsy revealed why: loggerheads drift on the surface of the ocean and consume vast amounts of plastic.
Bob was found at De Hoop Nature Reserve with a fractured shell and blindness caused by plastic. He is being rehabilitated at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Plastic found in Bob’s gut included a party balloon still on its ribbon.