The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Scotland Readies Ban on Plastic Cotton Buds
According to the UK's Marine Conservation Society, plastic cotton buds, which are often flushed down the toilet and can pass through sewage treatment plants, are consistently listed in the top 10 items found during beach clean-ups and litter surveys.
“Banning plastic cotton buds would be a clear sign of our ambition to address marine plastics and demonstrate further leadership on this issue," Scotland's Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said.
"Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets and this has to stop. Scotland's sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945 million liters of waste water each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds, which can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them."
A proposal to introduce a ban will now be put to public consultation.
Last year, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson switched their swabs from unnecessary plastic to paper sticks. The move was important because the plastic is impossible to recycle, meaning the discarded sticks end up in our landfills or out to sea.
Environmentalists cheered Scotland's proposal to outlaw plastic swabs, which would make it the first country in the UK to impose such a ban.
“After finding over 3,500 plastic cotton bud sticks on beaches across Scotland during our Great British Beach Clean in 2017, that's an average of 29 for every 100m surveyed, we're delighted to hear Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham's plans to ban the making and selling of them in Scotland," said Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation officer for the Marine Conservation Society.
"For things that are maybe used for just five minutes to clean out ears or put on eye make-up—they can cause huge impacts on our oceans for hundreds of years."
The marine conservation organization warned that discarded plastic cotton sticks that end up in our seas can accumulate toxins such as PCBs or can be accidentally ingested by marine life, causing physical damage or starvation.
"Paper and cardboard alternatives are already available for those who need them," Gemmell continued, "The ban will help us all make the change, however, no matter what it is made of, we still want everyone to only flush the 3 P's down the loo—pee, poo and paper, for the sake of Scotland's seas!"
Alasdair Neilson, the project officer at the environmental charity Fidra, which runs The Cotton Bud Project, added: “This progressive step will be welcomed by everyone who has seen cotton buds polluting our beaches and harming our wildlife. A ban would support the responsible businesses that have already removed this single-use plastic item from their shelves. Let's hope it also marks a bigger shift in the way we use and value plastics.
"These products are completely unnecessary as biodegradable alternatives are readily available. The need for action is clear and I would encourage everyone with an interest in safeguarding our natural environment to take part in the consultation when it opens."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.
'This is a Sick Statement': Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Under Pressure for Anti-Environmental Policies, Blames NGOs for Record Amazon Fires
'Work Together' or 'Destroy it': Goldman Prize Winner Francia Márquez on World's Second Deadliest Country For Environmental Activists
In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.
By Stuart Braun
A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.
Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.