US plastic experts have discovered hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic in just a few square metres while carrying out a survey on a Raglan beach.
Raglan is a coastal town in the Waikato region.
Staff from the 5 Gyers Institute – an international organisation working to reduce plastic pollution – are in New Zealand for the PURE Tour, a month-long event looking at plastic problems and solutions.
The institutes’ co-founder, Anna Cummins, said while it was early days in the tour, there had been much more plastic than expected in some areas.
“It looked like a very clean beach, some locals told me ‘don’t bother you won’t find anything’, it’s really when you get down on your hands and knees, move aside some of the natural debris that you see what we’re talking about.
“It was filled with small particles of plastic, with preproduction pellets that we call nurdles, so there was quite a bit in this one small area of Raglan that looked for all intents and purposes like quite a clean beach,” Ms Cummins said.
She said New Zealand was not as clean and green as it could be and needed better ways of managing plastic waste.
5 Gyres Institute research director Marcus Eriksen said while there were some great intiatives underway in New Zealand, single-use plastics were still causing a lot of problems.
Dr Eriksen and Ms Cummins will be joining iwi leaders and Greenpeace next week to hand over a petition to Parliament calling for a ban on single use plastic bags.
The petition has 60,000 signatures.