IPEN Global plastics monitoring project, beach sampling

Phased Out

Project Type:

  • Client Name: TABIO

Global Plastics monitoring project, beach sampling

TABIO with support from IPEN and under the supervision of Agenda for Responsible Environment is among the 23 NGOs that participated in the sampling of beached plastic pellets under the project on IPEN Global plastics monitoring project, beach sampling which started in 2019. This work is contributing greatly to increase the available data on chemicals in this type of plastic pollution. This project started by implementing the following activities: Selecting the beach for sample collection. Two beach sites namely Sunrise and Coco Beach in Dar es Salaam were selected for sample collection. Plastic polyethylene pellets were collected from the sites of which a minimum of 100 pellets were collected. The collected sample pellets were almost 5mm in size. After sample collection exercise was over, they were packed and labelled and thereafter shipped outside the country via DHL for analysis.

The pellets samples were analyzed for content of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and benzotriazole UV-stabilizers (BUVs). The sampled pellets contained total PCB concentrations of 141-1448 ng/g, which puts them into the moderately-extremely polluted category, according to the classification by International Pellet Watch. The pellets also contained 10/10 analyzed BUVs of a total concentration of 808-3045 ng/g. This puts them in the higher range compared to the other pellet samples.

It is well known that PCBs are listed in as POPs under the Stockholm convention and they are classified as carcinogenic. Common sources nowadays include legacy contamination in the environment, unintentional production, leaking from old electric transformers and disposal and recycling. PCBs have several negative effects on human health and the environment. As for Benzotriazole UV-stabilizers (BUVs), they are a group of UV-stabilizers that are added to plastics, coatings and cosmetics. Although data are scarce on some types of BUVs several BUVs can bioaccumulate and are persistent in the environment. Some of them are also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Plastic pellets results made TABIO to target, media, civil society organizations and the general public for awareness creation. In accomplishing the planned activities of reporting the finding of the plastic samples analysis, the following events were organized:

  1. Press conference: TABIO organized the media conference to present the findings. In implementing this activity, five media houses namely The Daily news, the Guardian, Tanzania Daima, Majira, Tanzania leo and MwanaHalisi online were invited for a press release. During the event, TABIO coordinator gave the history of this project in Tanzania that it started in 2019 but due to COVID 19 pandemic and other unavoidable circumstances delayed the analysis and hence delayed in the reporting. He also said that plastic pellets pollution is not well known among policy and decision makers and the general public. He said that the collected samples were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and benzotriazole UV-stabilizers (BUVs). He told the members of the press that Plastic pellets found on beaches in Tanzania and the world at large contain toxic chemicals.
  2. Awareness creation through media: Representative from the media house mentioned above and civil society organizations were made aware of the plastic pellets. They were taught that the plastic pose significant threats to human health and ecosystems throughout their life cycles. Plastic pellets are utilized in manufacturing large-scale plastics. These pre-production plastic pelletsare created separately from the user plastics they are melted down to form, and pellet loss is incurred during both the manufacturing and transport stages. These plastics are released into the open environment, creating pollution in oceans, beaches etc. There are several aspects of plastics that present risks to human health and the environment. These include
    the component monomers, some of which are known to be toxic, as well as the chemicals intentionally added
    to all plastics to make them function in their intended uses. These chemical additives include plasticizers, flame retardants, UV stabilizers, and colors. Further, dangerous by-products are created during plastics production and waste management.
  3. Media reporting: Six articles of which four were in Kiswahili and two in English were produced in six media houses. The articles were: (Watafiti waanika madhara ya plastiki (The Researchers expose the effects of plastics-by Times Majira Newspaper), Utafiti wabaini uzalishaji wa plastiki hatarishi kwa binadamu barani Afrika (The study identifies the production of hazardous plastics for humans in Africa – by Tanzania Leo), Tanzania faces effects of plastic beach pellets – by The Daily News, Fukwe za bahari zagubikwa plastiki hatari (The beaches are polluted with dangerous plastic – by Raia Mwema), Tafiti zaonyesha chembe chembe za plastiki zenye kemikali hatarishi- by Times Majira, call for international action to control plastic chemicals – by the Guardian Newspaper and Chembe chembe za plastiki hatari kwa afya (Plastic pellets are dangerous to health -by MwanaHalisi online)

Plastic pellets collected in 2019.