More than five million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every year. The abandoned fishing gear and bags and bottles left on beaches can smother birds and sea life. Now there is also evidence that the small particles created as the plastics are eroded by the waves and sunlight are eaten by all kinds of marine species.
Roland Pease is on a beach in Devon in south-west England with professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University finding the plastic debris before it gets into the sea. Professor of Ecotoxicology at Exeter University, Tamara Galloway, talks about her discoveries of microplastics in plankton and other species. Professor Tony Andrady of North Carolina University in the US, describes his paper that estimated the amount of plastic waste that is finding its way into the marine environment, and Dr Nancy Wallace of the US Marine Debris Program explains how they organise beach clean ups and raise awareness of the problem amongst the public.