Raglan’s pristine surf beach reputation is taking a beating with the discovery of unexpectedly large amounts of plastic pollution.
taff from the 5 Gyers Institute – an international organisation working to reduce plastic pollution –discovered hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic in just a few square metres while carrying out a survey on a Raglan beach
It looked like a very clean beach,” says institutes co-founder, Anna Cummins.
“Some locals said ‘don’t bother, you won’t find anything’.
ut it’s when you get down on your hands and knees and move aside some of the natural debris that you see what we’re talking about
It was filled with small particles of plastic, with preproduction pellets that we call nurdles, so there was quite a bit in this one small area of Raglan that looked for all intents and purposes like quite a clean beach. ”New Zealand is not as clean and green as it could be, and needs better ways of managing plastic waste, she says
Some of the research that we have been sharing here about plastics shows it’s getting into the food chain and into the bodies of fish and shellfish. ”There is also evidence of micro-plastics in consumer products – “everything from sea-salt to beer, to honey, to drinking water,” says Anna.
arcus Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute research director, says while there were some great initiatives underway in New Zealand, single-use plastics are still causing a lot of problems.
e said using plastics that are designed to last forever only once is nonsensical.
r Eriksen and Anna joined iwi leaders and Greenpeace to hand over a petition to parliament calling for a ban on single use plastic bags.
he petition has 60,000 signatures.
plastic bag ban is low-hanging fruit in dealing with the problem, as it helps reduce waste and raises awareness, says Anna.
he ban is supported by the heads of both the Foodstuffs and Countdown supermarket chains, and they have already vowed to stop using plastic bags at their stores by the end of the year.
round 100 million bags will be used in the meantime.
nna says they are also looking at reducing packaging around produce - including whether cucumbers needed to be plastic wrapped
With cucumbers, the plastic I believe is put around it to give it good life because they bruise very easily,” she says.
“We are looking at what else we can do. ”Foodstuffs business leader Chris Quinn says it is a similar situation with fruit and vegetables in their stores
The journey, to get where we are and to get to as plastic-free as we can, is to examine every one of those,” says Chris.