Monday, March 31, 2014

The Sources of Beach Waste

Plastics News reported late last week on new research regarding beach trash. It turns out that at least for the locale studied, the biggest source of the trash was from beach users themselves.
"Litter dropped or left by members of the public accounted for 39.4 percent of litter recorded over the weekend of Sept. 20-23 the MCS {Marine Conservation Society] said. This was followed by ‘non-sourced’ (38.1 percent), described by the MCS as “all the bits and bobs that we can’t really identify,” then fishing debris at 12.6 percent; shipping-related waste (4.5 percent); sewage-related debris (4.3 percent); fly-tipped material (0.9 percent), and medical (0.2 percent)."
This study is important since beach trash is the only type of "ocean trash" that most of the public ever sees, and so understanding it and its sources is critical. It also is hard to eliminate waste if you don't the know the source of it. That beach users were the immediate source suggests that more garbage bins might be needed as well as some signs or other educational/reminder type materials. If the beacher users assume that beach trash is only stuff tossed up by the ocean, then they might feel less obligation to clean up after themselves.

While it might be tempting to use this study to conclude that beach trash is then the largest source of ocean trash, but that would be premature, and likely inaccurate. Just as no two beaches are the same, the findings for different beaches will likely differ as well. But this study still reinforces the importance of cleaning up after ones own self. Failure to do so results in an immediate problem. And as always, waste, plastic or otherwise, has no business being in the ocean or on the beach

Previous Years
March 31, 2011 - Recycling Symbol Confusion

March 31, 2010 - More on DNA Patentability

March 31, 2010 - The Dreamliner did O.K.

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