Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Plastic Litter from Shotgun Ammunition in Marine Ecosystems – Problems and Solutions

Version 1 : Received: 6 May 2021 / Approved: 10 May 2021 / Online: 10 May 2021 (15:35:36 CEST)

How to cite: Kanstrup, N.; Hansen, N.M.; Pallesen, B.E.; Ma, N.; Andersen, M.; Vestbø, A.P.; Andersen, L.T.; Sommer-Larsen, P. Plastic Litter from Shotgun Ammunition in Marine Ecosystems – Problems and Solutions. Preprints 2021, 2021050218 Kanstrup, N.; Hansen, N.M.; Pallesen, B.E.; Ma, N.; Andersen, M.; Vestbø, A.P.; Andersen, L.T.; Sommer-Larsen, P. Plastic Litter from Shotgun Ammunition in Marine Ecosystems – Problems and Solutions. Preprints 2021, 2021050218

Abstract

Parts of shotgun cartridges are a significant source of plastic litter in the marine environment. Empty cartridge shells may not be picked up by the hunter who fired them, and plastic wads that serve to separate the propellant from the shot load, are lost down-range when a shot is fired. Such litter items constitute a cosmetic and aesthetic problem on coastlines and may cause harm to marine animals and in the later stages of decomposition break down into harmful micro plastic particles. There exists no reliable estimate of the global exposure of marine ecosystems to this plastic source. However, in some countries it has been subject to closer examination, including for example, Denmark where the annual contribution of plastic wads into marine systems was estimated to 600,000 pieces (c2 tonnes), and the accumulated density of washed-up items (both wads and shells) was 3.7 items per 100 m coastline. Increasing awareness of this problem has caused scientists, hunters’ communities and governments to suggest altered practice including transition to the use of biodegradable cartridge components, first and foremost wads as this item is invariable lost during hunting. Several manufacturers provide shotgun cartridges containing biodegradable wads based on different types of materials, including fibers and various types of plastics, for example PVAL (poly(vinyl alcohol)) and PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate). In this paper, we review the most recent literature on the amounts and related environmental hazards of plastic dispersed from hunting ammunition into marine ecosystems. We summarize the market availability of shotgun cartridges with biodegradable wads and discuss chemical, technical, economical and legal aspects of a transition to the use of such products.

Subject Areas

Biodegradable labeling; Decomposition; Fibre; Micro plastic; PVAL; PHA; Shotgun wad

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