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POLLUTION

Plastic-free effort at royal residence failed: Crown Princess

Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit has said that she failed in an experiment to cut out the use of plastic at the royal residence at Skaugum near Oslo.

Plastic-free effort at royal residence failed: Crown Princess
Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix

The Crown Princess says that she and other members of the royal family remain concerned over plastics pollution, reports broadcaster NRK.

“I made an effort to make Skaugum plastic free last year, and it didn’t go so well. I think it was incredibly difficult. It was an experiment to see how normal consumers can avoid using plastics,” Crown Princess Mette-Marit told NRK.

Known for her interest in the environment, the Crown Princess and other royals have previously been involved in initiatives to removed litter from beaches in Norway.

“The experiment inspired me to think about when plastic is a necessary product, and when it actually is not. We are in no way perfect, but I think that it is important to try and reduce the use of plastic in any case,” she said.

Plastic packaging with food and electronics products was the most difficult to avoid, according to the princess.

In interviews recorded by NRK with senior members of Norway’s royal family, King Harald described as a “wake-up call” the sight near Bergen earlier this year of a whale that had become ill after ingesting plastic.

After being forced to put down the whale, researchers found 30 plastic bags and large amounts of microplastics in the animal’s stomach.

Environmental organisation Grid has estimated that around 350 million tonnes of plastic are produced annually worldwide, with drastic increases forecast in the coming years.

15 tonnes are estimated to be dumped into the sea every minute, writes NRK.

Marine biologist Per-Erik Schulze of the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature (Naturvernforbundet) told the broadcaster that the issue was critical.

“Every single minute an amount equivalent to several waste disposal trucks full of plastic goes into the sea. We can observe that it is building up and is not broken down. That cannot continue,” Schulze said.

“Several researchers say that plastic is a type of environmental pollutant. An environmental pollutant is defined as something that is persistent and difficult to break down. It is then ingested by organisms and causes harm in various ways,” he continued. 

READ ALSO: Four out of five Norwegian mussels contain plastic: report

POLLUTION

Greenpeace sounds alarm over Spain’s ‘poisonous mega farms’

The “uncontrolled” growth of industrial farming of livestock and poultry in Spain is causing water pollution from nitrates to soar, Greenpeace warned in a new report on Thursday.

Greenpeace sounds alarm over Spain's 'poisonous mega farms'
Pollution from hundreds of intensive pig farms played a major role in the collapse of Murcia Mar Menor saltwater lagoon. Photo: JOSEP LAGO / AFP

The number of farm animals raised in Spain has jumped by more than a third since 2015 to around 560 million in 2020, it said in the report entitled “Mega farms, poison for rural Spain”.

This “excessive and uncontrolled expansion of industrial animal farming” has had a “serious impact on water pollution from nitrates”, it said.

Three-quarters of Spain’s water tables have seen pollution from nitrates increase between 2016 and 2019, the report said citing Spanish government figures.

Nearly 29 percent of the country’s water tables had more than the amount of nitrate considered safe for drinking, according to a survey carried out by Greenpeace across Spain between April and September.

The environmental group said the government was not doing enough.

It pointed out that the amount of land deemed an “area vulnerable to nitrates” has risen to 12 million hectares in 2021, or 24 percent of Spain’s land mass, from around eight million hectares a decade ago, yet industrial farming has continued to grow.

“It is paradoxical to declare more and more areas vulnerable to nitrates”, but at the same time allow a “disproportionate rise” in the number of livestock on farms, Greenpeace said.

Pollution from hundreds of intensive pig farms played a major role in the collapse of one of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons, the Mar Menor in Spain’s southeast, according to a media investigation published earlier this week.

Scientists blamed decades of nitrate-laden runoffs for triggering vast blooms of algae that had depleted the water of the lagoon of oxygen, leaving fish suffocating underwater.

Two environmental groups submitted a formal complaint in early October to the European Union over Spain’s failure to protect the lagoon.

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