Comment on our article 24th April 2020, from marine biologist Professor Richard Thompson OBE

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about the 3Ps in ‘Turn your toilet paper into a wet wipe + other news & views on loos & no. 2s‘ and potential ways to help the environment by not putting anything other than Poop, Pee and Paper (toilet paper) in the loo… We asked one of the world’s leading experts, Professor Richard Thompson, for his opinion and he kindly responded having said ‘the article made good sense.’ His comments can be seen below:

“The bottom line is we all need to work toward consuming less stuff. It is especially important to  minimise any single use items where the benefit is very transitory  –  but the persistence as waste is long-lived. That’s the issue with wipes. The move toward a fine to flush logo might make sense. However, its potentially confusing for consumers if some wipes are OK to flush and others not. Perhaps the simplest message is  the 3Ps –  only flush pee, poo and paper. The idea of a spray to modify conventional paper is an interesting one and  may have merit.  I hope the containers are fully compatible with  a circular economy.

To me the key thing in all of this is the need for  product designers to fully consider end of life scenarios for their products right from the design stage; and where necessary have necessary testing done  to evaluate those outcomes before a product goes to market. Many of the current challenges relating to plastics could be avoided with  a little more thought at the design stage.Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS

Professor Thompson is Director of the Marine Institute School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and leads the International Marine Litter Research Unit. Professor Thompson coined the termmicroplasticsin 2004. With thanks for his remarks and advice.

Listen to this fascinating and enlightening podcast with Professor Thompson on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Life Scientific [listen now or download.] ‘How did you first get interested in the problem of plastic pollution in the sea?’ Richard Thompson tells Jim Al-Khalili how he alerted the world to the micro-plastics in the ocean and the harm they might cause to marine life.

When the rest of the world was waking up to the harm caused to marine life by larger plastic items, such as plastic bags, Professor Richard Thompson searched for tiny fragments of plastic, some no bigger than a human hair; and found them in oceans and on beaches all over the world. He has spent decades studying the harm these micro-plastics might cause to marine life and is concerned. His work on plastics in cosmetics led to a UK ban on micro-beads in shower gels and exfoliating scrubs.

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