High level of microplastics around Bay of Plenty moana

Following the Government’s recent announcement to phase out single-use plastics, a University of Waikato study has revealed “extremely high levels” of microplastics around Bay of Plenty moana.

University of Waikato master of science student Anita Lewis found the particles in every sediment sample she took from across the region, between Tauranga Harbour and the eastern coast to Maketu and Ōpōtiki. It is also sparking health concerns for the people who live in the marine ecosystem.

Greenpeace Aotearoa plastics campaigner, Juressa Lee, says the findings illustrate the need for a more comprehensive ban on unnecessary single-use plastic products like plastic drink bottles.

“The findings are horrendous; there was not one area sampled where microplastics were not present. There were particularly high levels in shellfish, including tuatua, cockles and wedge shells,” she says.

“This shows that the Government’s recently announced plan to phase out some ‘difficult to recycle single-use plastic items’ does not go far enough. We need to see bolder action that eliminates single-use plastic bottles which are one of the most pervasive contributors to plastic pollution on land and sea.

Greenpeace Aotearoa continues to call for the ban to cover a wider range of products including single-use plastic drink bottles like Coke, Pepsi and Pump which ultimately break down into microplastics in the ocean.

“The Labour Government’s new commitment to phase out single-use plastics puts us on the right track but it isn’t enough. We need to go further if we are to ever find our way back from this plastic pollution crisis,” says Lee.

Greenpeace Aotearoa’s petition to “ban the bottle” now has over 80,000 signatures and the organisation is vowing to renew its efforts to eliminate throwaway plastic bottles.