Tons of plastic waste in the North Sea

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Tons of plastic waste in the North Sea

Around 20,000 tons of plastic waste end up in the North Sea every year. Environmentalists warn of health and ecological consequences for animals and humans.

According to the nature conservation association "Mellumrat e.V.", around 20,000 tons of plastic waste end up in the North Sea every year. It is now so bad that "there are no plastic-free beaches between Sylt and Borkum," said the chairman of the nature conservation and research community, Matthias Heckroth. Since the 1990s, the only German organization has been systematically checking the beaches for garbage. Heckroth explains that there are now around 700 plastic waste parts on 100 meters of beach. Around 80 percent of the tubes, shampoo bottles, toilet brushes, plastic granules and plastic bottles are washed into the oceans from rivers. The rest had been shredded or thrown overboard from ships as a whole.

Animals contaminated with plastic waste
It is a terrible disaster for the environment. Again and again the conservationists find dead birds in discarded nets. Environmentalists almost always find small plastic particles in their stomachs. According to a study by the University of Kiel, around 93 percent of all dead animals found had plastic waste in their stomachs. Statistically extrapolated, there were 29 particles per animal, 26 of which are so-called consumer plastics. In the North Atlantic, more and more particles accumulated in a sea current. The floating garbage island in the sea is now larger than Germany and Poland combined.

Traveling exhibition against marine litter
The association now wants to draw attention to the problem in a new traveling exhibition. Under the title “Rubbish on the beach - so what?” The causes and effects of the environmental time disturbances are discussed. The exhibition opens at Jever Castle. Afterwards the traveling exhibition should move to other cities.

The Mellumrat is a nature conservation association that has existed since 1925. At that time, the association for the protection of the uninhabited North Sea island of Mellum was founded. Today, the environmental protection association also looks after other islands and areas in terms of nature conservation. The main task of the association is to look after and monitor official nature reserves. In the areas, data on nature and environmental protection are collected and research work is also carried out. (sb)

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Image: Peter von Bechen /

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