ALBATROSSES on South Georgia on the edge the Antarctic throw up plastic bags. One albatross chick died because a plastic toothpick pierced its stomach.

The thought of these magnificent, almost mythical, birds suffering because of the plastic wastes we dump into the seas is deeply disturbing. As is the discovery that hundreds of thousands of small round ‘nurdles’ produced for the plastics industry at Grangemouth and elsewhere are contaminating Scotland’s beaches.

Plastic is certainly useful, but it’s often made into things of little value. It is also very persistent and sometimes dangerous. It’s simply not sustainable to keep chucking it into the sea as if there is no tomorrow.

That’s why government moves at home and abroad to end plastic pollution are to be welcomed. The Scottish Government has promised “to end the throw-away culture” by considering charges on single-use plastic items.

It was Scotland that led the way on charging for plastic bags, a change now widely seen as successful in reducing waste and litter. It is also committed to introducing deposits on drinks containers.

It would be fitting if we now showed the world how to curb the scourge of marine pollution by making people pay for plastic bottles, cups, cutlery and other items that are only going to be dumped.

The plastics industry of course will squeal, as they squealed about plastic bag charges and drinks container deposits. But ministers must ignore them, hold their nerve and introduce charges to reflect the true, appalling, cost of plastic pollution.