Microplastics found in Mediterranean sea turtles
CRAM study funded by Quadpack Foundation reveals disturbing levels of plastic pollution
Ocean plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges faced by the packaging industry. Quadpack Foundation supported an ongoing study by Barcelona-based marine rescue centre CRAM Foundation to gather information on the extent of the problem. CRAM treated a total of 70 sea turtles recovered from the Mediterranean Sea in 2022 and obtained faeces and other digestive content. Plastic was found at a macroscopic level in 92.6% of the samples analysed. The most common was sheet plastic (31%), followed by filaments (14%) and plastic fragments (11%).
The CRAM team also studied samples obtained from necropsies on sea turtles, finding plastic remains in all of them. Though not the cause of death, in several cases, the presence of plastic in their digestive tracts did cause severe enteritis, which produces pain, anorexia and a compromised immune system. This can seriously affect the animals by making them more susceptible to threats such as capture by trawling.
Sea turtles live in a large spatial area, from the bottom to the surface of the ocean. This makes them a bioindicator of marine pollution, as they tend to ingest plastic waste or get entangled in it.
In July 2021, an EU Directive imposed a ban on all products made of oxo-degradable plastics, which breaks down progressively into microplastics. Despite this measure, the CRAM study shows that ocean plastic pollution has reached critical levels, demanding more drastic action. The high levels of plastic waste affect not just marine life, but all living beings, as oceans produce food, as well as over half of the oxygen breathed on Earth.
Quadpack’s Chief Impact Officer Tim Eaves said: “As a beauty packaging manufacturer, we are acutely aware of the impact of our industry’s activity on the environment. As a B Corp, we have a responsibility to drive systemic change based on hard data. The CRAM study reveals disturbing information that we must collectively act upon for the future of the planet.”
Download a copy of the study here (Spanish).