Has Blue Planet II transformed government attitudes to plastic waste?
When it hit our screens in December 2017, the final instalment of David Attenborough's highly praised Blue Planet II series placed an important issue firmly in our living rooms - the ongoing ecological crisis of plastic waste.
The programme showed, in ultra-high-definition, how plastic waste in oceans is wreaking havoc on marine animal populations, including whales, dolphins, turtles, seals and albatrosses, in some cases pushing them to the verge of extinction. Modern plastics have only been in mass production since the 1950s, but their adverse impact on the environment has been staggering (see infographic below). Discarded plastic bags, food containers, bottle caps and bottles travel across oceans in massive circular currents called gyres. This non-biodegradable debris accumulates in artificial islands like the 'Great Garbage Patch' in the north Pacific Ocean, which is the size of Texas. The debris then breaks down to an almost microscopic level and is consumed by marine wildlife, leading to accumulations of carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals becoming lodged inside them.