Multinational corporation and well-known brand Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to stop selling their plastic cotton buds, which are one of the most common items of litter found on Britain’s beaches. The decision was made following a campaign to cut marine pollution, which largely consists of unrecycled plastics, and promises to stop selling the plastic cotton buds in half of the countries in the world. The company has said that they will use paper as the stick of the buds as an alternative, according to recent reports.
Dr. Clare Cavers from the Scottish environmental charity Fidra, which ran a campaign to persuade people to stop using plastic cotton buds, said,
“We commend Johnson & Johnson for leading this change in product material, it is an important part of the solution to the growing problem of plastic pollution in our seas. A step change in consumer behaviour is needed to ensure people dispose of waste responsibly and only flush toilet paper. The message cannot be strong enough that only the three Ps (pee, toilet paper and poo) should be flushed, and anything else should go in a bin.”
Plastic cotton buds are the sixth most common type of litter that was found on Britain’s beaches throughout 2016, according to recordings made by the Marine Conservation Society. Although guidelines state that cotton buds should always be thrown into a bin, many are flushed down toilets where they then reach the beaches through the sewer system. Plastic does not degrade as paper does, meaning that it is likely to persist in the natural world for centuries, which then attracts and concentrates an array of poisonous chemicals in the sea. When paper cotton buds are used in the place of plastic, they will get waterlogged and settle out of the wastewater before they would reach the beach, before they would then gradually degrade.
The company’s group marketing manager, Niamh Finan, said, “We recognise that our products have an environmental footprint, and that’s why we have actively switched our cotton buds range from plastic to a paper stick.” The United Nations has also warned that plastic debris in the sea poses a serious threat to human health, and experts have warned that plastic should be treated as a toxic substance once it gets into the environment. With the equivalent of one rubbish truck full of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute, serious changes need to be made before it is too late. Current statistics show that if the rate of the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean continues, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. Despite a multitude of awareness campaigns and prediction reports that are widely publicized about the danger of excessive plastic usage as it is today, only 5 percent of plastics are recycled effectively, whilst 40 percent end up in landfill sites, and a third in fragile ecosystems, which includes the oceans. Conservationists hope to see many other huge corporations follow suit by using environmentally friendly alternatives to their popular products.
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