Plastics continue to haunt us long after we have used them because during the degradation process, they break down into microparticles, which then contaminate our water systems. We know that this has an impact on our oceans and the animals living in them, but the findings from the latest report commissioned by the Water Research Commission has made it shockingly clear that tap water in both Tshwane and Johannesburg is polluted by microplastics. In response to the news, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Nhlanhla Sibisi has said:
“The use of single-use plastics is clearly putting people’s health at risk, and polluting our scarce water resources. Water is life, and this study drives home the need for industry and retail chains to urgently find alternatives to single-use plastics. It increases the need for the public to shift away from single-use plastic and for government to come up with impactful legislation that will ban single-use plastics and enforce rules that ensure a cleaner environment. While we don’t yet know exactly what the implications of drinking tap water which is polluted by microplastics may be, we definitely need to be safe rather than sorry in this case”.
Notes to the editor:
- The latest United Nations report on world plastic pollution paints a stark reality of its impact on our environment, including oceans and water streams. More than 8 million tonnes of plastics end up in the oceans each year – equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic per minute. Up to 80 percent of all litter in the oceans is made of plastic. Globally, only around 9 percent of plastic gets recycled compared to over 9 percent that ends up in our landfill sites and natural environment. Available here: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/new-report-offers-global-outlook-efforts-beat-plastic-pollution
- News24 piece on the study: https://www.news24.com/Green/News/drinking-water-contaminated-with-micro–plastic-pollution-in-gauteng-20180725