Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Go hard in war on plastic

Published:Wednesday | September 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM


I welcome the ban on (some) plastics and styrofoam! This is not just an environmental issue. When plastics and styrofoam contaminate our soil, rivers and marine areas, they are also contaminating our food source. Styrene and polystyrene are harmful to all living things, with studies identifying them as potential human carcinogens.

Research shows that juvenile fish fed polypropylene as micro-plastics (small plastic fragments) for just 10 days had reduced growth, reduced body size, and reduced performance. Oysters exposed to polystyrene as micro-plastics showed decrease in fecundity (egg production) and offspring development. Egg number, size, and sperm velocity decreased by 38.5 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively, in these organisms contaminated by plastics.

In the same way that we regard sugary drinks as a health issue for our population, we should also consider plastic contamination

of the environment and, consequently, of our food as a health issue. Tackling those issues now will save us millions in the future.

We must reduce, reuse (appropriately) and recycle. The ban will help us reduce the quantities of this material that contains harmful chemicals.


Director, Centre for Marine

Sciences & Discovery Bay

Marine Laboratory