Plastic waste in lakes – call for evidence

Plastic Waste in Lakes – Call for evidence

At the present time there is intense public interest in plastic waste and what happens to it if it is not recycled or recovered for energy. This interest was sparked by the recent BBC series, Blue Planet II, with its images of sea creatures tangled up in plastic wastes of different types, and analyses of the stomach contents of various sea creatures all of which contained plastic. The main problem with plastic litter (or large quantities of plastic waste dumped in the environment intentionally) is that it doesn’t readily break down organically – it can remain in the environment for a thousand years or more, and if it’s moving around in a water body it will break up gradually into ever smaller pieces during this period.

Whilst the problem is not as obvious in inland still waters like lakes and reservoirs, it is most certainly an issue which needs attention. This is evidenced by the 250 tonnes of litter (much of it plastic) which was picked up from a single stretch of the shoreline of Lough Neagh recently, and the experience around Windermere in the past where ‘Winder Cleaning’ projects were carried out to clear litter from the shoreline and the lake bed, which also produced large quantities of plastics.

I think UKILN should be lobbying our respective Governments to ensure that our inland still waters are not forgotten in any policy making, or funded action programmes which are created, aimed at clearing up plastic wastes from our seas and shorelines.

In order to do this effectively, I would like all UKILN members to place any evidence they have of plastic pollution and its effects on lakes etc. onto the website, so a stronger, evidence based case can be put to Ministers and civil servants.

Tony Dean, UKILN President, October 2018

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