One of the black plastic council bins you will have seen around your local town or city has washed up on a beach 70 miles from its original location.
This plastic Peterborough Council bin cover washed up on Blakeney Point beach in Norfolk, after travelling through the waterways.
The National Trust, which owns the beach, said "it's likely that it fell in the river Nene and made its way to us that way". Polluted waterways are a real problem when it comes to plastic, with 80% of ocean plastic pollution stemming from rivers.
Blakeney Point houses England's largest seal colony, but rather than being a sanctuary, the animals are consistently suffering serious injury from the litter washing up around the Norfolk coast.
There have now been 50 grey seals rescued and treated by a local wildlife centre. The last seal to be treated was found with an infected wound caused by a fishing net trapped around his neck.
The RSPCA centre in Norfolk said 2019 could be a record year for seal rescues "for all the wrong reasons".
"It's hard to describe how much pain and distress this can cause a seal," said manager Alison Charles.
“They are weighed down by this huge mass of netting, which must make it hard for them to swim, and then the net starts to cut and embed into their neck too. The injuries are horrendous, sometimes inches deep, and all the while the seal is becoming weaker and weaker and cannot feed so their suffering continues and they slowly starve to death. It is just horrific"
This is just one immediate and local repercussion of plastic pollution. If something as large as a council bin can swiftly make its way along waterways and onto a beach miles away, think about the outreach of much smaller discarded items of plastic such as plastic bottles or packaging. Greater still; think of the extent that microplastics can travel and tamper or influence the development and balance of the natural world - mainly our oceans.
It is a global issue that rapidly needs addressing by all facilitating the potential for plastic to enter the oceans via waterways; if we have waterways, we have a responsibility to eradicate the pollution stemming from them before it enters the Ocean network.
Thankfully, people are waking up and change is being implemented, and science is seeing great leaps forward in this sector.
You can read our blog on the Interceptor, an Ocean Cleanup machine invented by 19 year old Boyan Slat, successfully removing large quantities of plastic pollution from some of the worst effected areas of our oceans: https://aquapaxwater.com/blogs/news/ocean-cleanup-introduces-the-interceptortm
In terms of our council bin, plans are being arranged for its return to Peterborough, although it has been joked that it may be kept at Blakeney Point and turned into a "tourist attraction" to highlight the issue and impact of plastic pollution.