Our bet is that this study about ocean plastic pollution will be misused

A new study talking about plastic pollution in the oceans. This is about “macroplastic”, the bits that can be seen and felt. We would lay good money at even odds that this study will be misused by campaigners:

Plastic pollution has got 10 times worse in seas around Britain since 2000

Sounds bad:

Plastic in the North Sea is 10 times worse than at the start of the century, a study by British scientists has found.

Researchers looked at records from a plankton sampling mission which has been trawling the North Atlantic and surrounding regions since 1957.

They found that before 2000, the little torpedo shaped collection device would become snagged on large bits of plastic rubbish on fewer than one in 200 outings.

But now researchers are forced to untangle plastic bags, fishing equipment and other debris after one in 20 trawls.

The misuse will be “untangle plastic bags, fishing equipment and”. For here’s the study itself:

A similarity percentage (SIMPER) analysis19 determined that the percentage contribution between the litter types to the change in macroplastic counts over time were 44.86% due to fishing related plastics, 44.67% due to other (fishing not specified) plastic types, and 10.48% due to plastic bags.

It’s almost entirely down to fishing gear. Those plastics first being used in fishing gear in the 1950s. As to the plastic bags:

There is also evidence of a decline in the entanglement records of plastic bags since 2000

2000 is a decade, decade and a half before the battle against single use plastic bags was even started. Well before any government action like compulsory charges and so on.

So, our evidence says that plastic bags are a small part of the problem, one that is declining anyway even in the absence of government action. And our prediction is that this will be misused to argue that ever greater efforts must be made to phase out the plastic bags which aren’t causing the problem.