Plymouth University professor in 'plastic hazard' call

Beach waste
Image caption Professor Thompson has been studying the effect of waste plastic on marine life

A Plymouth University professor has joined calls for plastic waste to be classed as hazardous.

Prof Richard Thompson, of the Marine Biology and Ecology centre, is among a team of international academics who say waste plastics threaten the environment and wildlife.

Their report in Nature magazine says more than 370 marine species ingest or become entangled in plastic debris.

They add that the benefits of plastic outweigh its "negative impacts".

Prof Thompson, the only UK scientist involved in the report, has been studying the effects of waste plastic in the oceans since 2004.

He said: "The Nature report builds directly on our previous research, together with that of other leading world experts, and asks that we acknowledge these problems by reclassification of plastic waste as hazardous."

The report said: "Many people think that replacing materials such as wood and glass with plastic to make goods lighter can help to address climate change.

"However, the benefits must be balanced against the negative impacts of plastics so that they are used only when they have smaller carbon and ecological footprints than alternatives."

It said there was a precedent with the legislation taken to ban CFCs, which led to a global halt in some dangerous chemical emissions.

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