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London Zoo uses art to highlight plastic pollution scourge

by Chris Creegan | @ChrisCreegan | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 24 May 2018 16:39 GMT

ZSL Marine project manager Fiona Llewellyn places the last bottle in the installation (Image: Chris Creegan)

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Between five and 14 tonnes of plastic are estimated to enter the world's oceans every year, causing irreparable damage.

By Chris Creegan

LONDON, May 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An art installation made of 15,000 plastic bottles went on show at London Zoo on Thursday to highlight the devastating impact of litter on the oceans, as public pressure to tackle the problem grows in Britain.

Between five and 14 tonnes of plastic are estimated to enter the world's oceans every year, causing irreparable damage to marine wildlife and ecosystems.

The work by artist Nick Wood represents the 15,000 water bottles bought every minute in Britain, which has committed 61 million pounds ($81.62 million) to develop new ways of tackling plastic waste.

"In the middle of the ocean we are finding huge amounts of plastic," said Fiona Llewellyn, Marine Project Manager at the Zoological Society of London.

"In London, the average adult uses 175 single-use plastic water bottles every single year," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

British leaders launched a crackdown on plastic waste after David Attenborough highlighted the devastating impact on marine life last year in his hugely popular Blue Planet II series.

The government has already implemented a mandatory charge for every single-use plastic bag and pledged to ban the sale of plastic straws and other single-use products.

However, environmental groups said more action was needed.

"We've heard a lot from the government about their intentions, but rather than more consultations we need hard law to force action on the scale the public wants to see," said Paul Keenlyside, a Greenpeace spokesman.

"The success of the plastic bag charge shows that a smart and well-aimed government intervention can change behaviour and greatly reduce plastic waste."

Plastic recycling around the world is "failing to reach its full potential," the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned on Thursday.

It called for the introduction of higher taxes on the manufacture and use of new plastics and more mechanisms to make consumers pay for single-use plastic bags, cutlery or straws.

($1 = 0.7474 pounds)

(Reporting by Chris Creegan, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/)

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