The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has said there is “absolutely no supporting evidence” that the death of a whale calf depicted in the BBC programme Blue Planet II was linked to waste plastics.
The programme showed a dead calf and raised the possibility it had been poisoned by its mother’s milk. It implicated the level of plastic waste in the oceans in the death.
The BPF said that no autopsy had been done on the whale and that it was wrong to insinuate it had been killed by plastics.
A spokesperson said: “The BPF was disappointed that the saddening images of a dead baby pilot whale in the recent episode of Blue Planet II were linked to plastics with absolutely no supporting evidence.
“The BPF wishes to make it unequivocally clear that plastics themselves are not a major source of toxins, persistent organic pollutants or heavy metals found in oceans. This is because they are inherently inert.
”Plastics are completely safe when in contact with food or beverages, for example, and have to meet very strict requirements set in food contact legislation at an EU level.”
The BBC defended its programme, and pointed to a number of scientific opinions stating that micro-plastics can attract contamination by toxic chemicals.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The Blue Planet II team was advised by the scientific community across the series, including a number of world experts on chemical and plastic pollution.
“The facts presented in their research indicate that the dead calf could have been poisoned from its mother’s milk due to chemical pollution, and new research shows that plastics could be part of the problem.
“It’s well documented that industrial pollutants accumulate on micro-plastics and that micro-plastics are consumed by a wide variety of sea creatures. The latest research is investigating the degree to which plastic could be contributing to the already high levels of chemical pollution in marine life.”