A PLAN to cut marine plastic pollution by 70 per cent would be a major environmental boost to Moreton Bay, say its proponents.
The plan is reputedly the first of its type in the world and includes figures showing the amount of plastic in Australian waters – about 1.7 million tonnes – is much worse than previously thought.
Author Dave West said most plastic pollution was invisible to everyday Australians.
It was broken into tiny pieces and sank to the bottom where it destroyed marine life and contaminated food.
Toby Hutcheon, spokesman for Boomerang Alliance, a coalition of conservation groups who released the report, said there were no better examples of damage done by plastics than the impact on Moreton Bay’s green turtles.
University of Queensland scientists based at North Stradbroke Island estimated about 30 per cent of the green turtles died from plastic ingestion.
During investigations, microplastic was found to be concentrated near the Brisbane River mouth – a fishing hot spot – and a playground at bayside Manly which had 400 pieces of plastic per square foot.
“This came from matting that was disintegrating,’’ Mr Hutcheon said. “It also had spread along a 50 metre section of nearby beach. Brisbane City Council is repairing it.’’
Mr Hutcheon said the good news was that although Clean Up Australia found that Queensland was the dirtiest state in Australia, state government moves to introduce a container deposit system and make illegal single-use plastic bags were expected to have major impacts.
The report found that each year between 90,000 and 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste entered the ocean. This included about 863 million plastic bottles, 275 million plastic bags, 10 million plastic products and 8 billion-plus synthetic cigarette butts.
On the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have found that coral is ingesting plastic about the same rate as food. Testing in Europe and North America has found plastics in table salt, honey and beer.
Mr Hutcheon said Queensland must press NSW and Victoria to act on plastic bags and for Victoria to adopt a container deposit system.
A range of other plastic pollution sources and products like plastic straws, polystyrene food containers and heavier weight plastic bags should be removed from the market.
Mr Hutcheon said he hoped the study would be the trigger to encourage people to abandon damaging practices like littering and blowing or hosing rubbish into drains.