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You’ll be surprised how long a discarded plastic bottle takes to get to the sea.

Here at UKVending we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and comply with all the latest and most stringent regulations, but around the world this is, sadly, not always the case. Plastic pollution is rife and a recent scientific study by the University of Exeter proved the point.

The study lead, Emily Duncan, asked the simple question how long does it take a discarded plastic bottle to get from being dumped in a river to end up in the sea where it will take many hundreds of years to break down. Emily received a grant to answer this question and by using GPS trackers in 25 plastic bottles she set out to provide an answer. She took her inspiration for the research from trackers placed on the back of turtles to study their migration patterns and reasoned that a similar approach might work to track the course taken by plastic bottles on their way downstream.

The river chosen for the experiment was the mighty Ganges. The Ganges was chosen as it is one of the world’s worst polluting rivers accounting for the second most amount of trash entering the sea every year. The researchers discovered that the 25 plastic bottles travelled, on average, 6 kilometres a day with one bottle travelling a total distance of around 3000 kilometres from the Bay of Bengal and circled around the east Indian coastline in 94 days. One bottle truly raced around the coastline travelling at a speed of 21 kilometres a day. 40 per cent of the bottles quickly became stranded on sand or mud banks before being flushed away during the monsoon rainy season.

In 2010 an estimated 5 million to 13 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the world’s oceans with some of it entering the food supply chain.

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