Land or sea? What bottles tell us about the origins of beach litter in Kenya

Catégorie : Détection et Caractérisation
Date :9 octobre 2020
Ryan, Peter G.
Waste Management : 116, 49–57.
Identifying the source of marine litter is essential to design effective mitigation measures to reduce plastic leakage into marine ecosystems. Kenya recently banned the use of polyethylene bags, but PET drink bottles remain a contentious source of litter in the country. I collected bottles and other single-use containers at nine Kenyan beaches, and compared their composition, country of manufacture and approximate age (time since manufacture) to bottles collected in coastal towns. Locally manufactured bottles dominated street litter (98%) and on urban beaches (93%) but became increasingly uncommon with distance from coastal towns, comprising only 30% of bottles at remote beaches. These steep spatial gradients indicate that most local bottles do not disperse far from source areas. The presence of lids is important for long-distance dispersal of glass and PET bottles, and many PET bottles littered in urban areas lack lids. HDPE bottles are much more common on beaches than on streets, and most come from Indonesia. The presence of epibionts and bite marks suggest that most HDPE bottles have drifted in the South Equatorial Current from southeast Asia, whereas foreign PP bottles mostly come from Indian Ocean island states. Reducing plastic leakage in southeast Asia should reduce the amount of beach litter throughout the western Indian Ocean. Some foreign PET bottles come from neighbouring states, but many are probably dumped illegally from ships operating from Asia. In addition to reducing plastic leakage from land-based sources, we need to ensure compliance with MARPOL Annex V regulations banning the disposal of plastic wastes at sea.