Plastic is ocean’s biggest pollutant

A turtle deformed by a plastic sleeve

Ask any environmentalist and they will tell you plastic is killing our oceans.

An estimated 12.7 million tons of plastic – from bottles to bags and microbeads – end up in oceans each year, according to Greenpeace.

In Cape Town, coastlines draw millions of tourists and local visit-
ors every year and plough about R40 billion into the local economy annually, according to the City of Cape Town.

The City has drawn up a new draft by-law to protect Cape Town’s coastline bounty, and it will present it to the public for feedback over the next three weeks.

Far South residents can attend one such public hearing tonight, Thursday August 15, at 7pm, at the Fish Hoek Sub-council Chambers, Central Circle.

The Beach Co-op, a non-profit company promoting the elimination, reuse, redesign and recycling of single-use plastic, launched the Dirty Dozen methodology in September 2017 to log the most common items of litter found on beaches.

The Beach Co-op was founded in 2015 when a group of volunteers started meeting to collect
marine debris at the rocky shore at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg. According to founder Aaniyah Omardien, the top plastic culprits are sweet wrappers, cooldrink bottle lids and straws.

Since the launch of the Dirty Dozen, more than 100 clean-ups were held and 36 736 sweet wrappers, 33 184 cooldrink lids and
25 344 straws were collected, among other plastic items.

Plastic bottles, chip packets and lollipop sticks are also culprits.

Beach clean-ups across Cape Town during Plastic Free July netted more than 1 000kg of waste.

The International Coastal Cleanup is on September 21, and Ms Omardien urges the public to join beach clean-ups in their communities.

According to Rob Downey, from the Friends of the Fish Hoek Beach, plastic is now one of the top products poisoning the planet and takes up to a thousand years to disintegrate.

Fishing line in the ocean can take up to 600 years to decompose and that is with the help of the environment and UV rays.

Plastic, due to its versatility, had become our “worst nightmare”, he said.

“Plastic pollution is filling our environment and can be found on the top of Mount Everest right down to the bottom of our

Mr Downey said the group heard alarming reports of sea creatures dying slow deaths from starvation after ingesting plastic mistaken as food. Plastic wrapping also snared creatures causing deformities, suffocation and starvation.

“Fish Hoek Beach is one of our precious resources on our doorstep, and we need to start educating ourselves and our children on how to look after our environment,” he said.

Kommetjie Primary School pupil Ben Euston-Brown, 12, is a surfer and regularly organises beach clean-ups.

The most common plastics he finds are straws, polystyrene packing and chip packets, as well as plastic fragments and lots of micro plastics.

“I carry my own reusable straw with me when I go to restaurants as a way of reducing single use plastic pollution,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg, said two City employees cleaned the Fish Hoek Beach daily, including weekends. There was more litter after rains, she said, because it was washed down to the stormwater outlet on Fish Hoek Beach and the river mouth at Clovelly.

She encouraged the public to dispose of litter responsibly to stop it reaching the ocean.

The Friends of Fish Hoek Beach will have a beach clean-up on Sunday September 15, from 9am until 10am. Meet at the lighthouse.

For more information, call 084 576 7378 or email