The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has voiced its disappointment over claims by the BBC’s Blue Planet II programme which linked the death of a baby pilot whale to plastics “with absolutely no supporting evidence”.
In the 19 Nov episode of the Blue Planet II, the BBC’s Sir David Attenborough claimed the that a dead newborn pilot whale could have been poisoned through her milk, which could have been contaminated by plastics and industrial chemicals.
In a 21 Nov statement, the BPF said it wanted to “make it unequivocally clear that plastics themselves are not a major source of toxins, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) nor heavy metals found in oceans.”
This is, the BPF explained, because plastics are inherently inert.
“Plastics are completely safe when in contact with food or beverages, for example, and have to meet very strict requirements set in food contact legislation at an EU level,” the foundation added.
The British plastics body went on to say that the harmful chemicals that are present in the sea are not there because of plastics.
“They are often present due to historical practices, with many of these practices and chemicals now banned under UN and EU regulations,” the BPF noted.
Malcolm Hudson, associate professor in environmental sciences at Southampton University, publicly questioned the way the whale’s death was presented by the programme in a tweet, saying “… the scene linking the dead baby whale to plastic pollution seemed questionable…. Make the case with evidence, not hype, BBC Earth.”
The BPF also took a similar stance, saying “falsely linking toxins in the ocean with plastics and the death of a baby whale is poor film-making and alarmist. Plastics are completely safe: they simply need to be disposed of responsibly so that they do not enter the marine environment.”