BBC documentary inspires environmental changesFebruary 22nd, 2018 By Olivia Franklin
Blue Planet II, narrated by David Attenborough, was the most-watched TV show of 2017. Its first episode attracted more than 14 million viewers. It highlighted the damaging impact that single-use plastic is having on the world’s oceans – including a case of a pilot whale calf which is thought to have died after consuming its mother’s milk contaminated with toxic chemicals from plastic.
Each year 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced and 40% of it is single-use, meaning it is only used once before being thrown away. More than eight million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s seas each year. The majority of man-made plastics are not bio-degradable and not all plastic can be recycled. For sea birds and larger marine creatures, the danger comes from being entangled in plastic bags and other debris, or mistaking plastic for food – a fatal situation.
Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said he had been “shocked” by the plastic waste featured in last year’s nature documentary. The BBC is to ban single-use plastics by 2020, after TV series Blue Planet II highlighted the scale of sea pollution. First, throwaway plastic cups and cutlery will be scrapped by the end of this year, followed by plastic containers in canteens by 2019.By 2020, the BBC hopes to be free of single-use plastic across all sites.
The Scottish Parliament also announced plans to ban plastic straws, following similar announcements by restaurants including Pizza Express, Wagamama and JD Wetherspoon.
Attenborough, 91, said in the series: “Unless the flow of plastics into the world’s oceans is reduced, marine life will be poisoned by them for many centuries to come.” In January, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042. The commitment is part of the government’s 25-year plan to improve the natural environment.
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