A global commitment to clean oceans
Author: Billy Pringle
A new UN resolution has seen almost 200 countries commit to eliminating plastic pollution at sea, while at the same time, a group of major businesses have revealed plans to build the first commercial-scale ocean-friendly plastic supply chain.
Eight million tonnes of plastic, bottles, packaging and other waste are dumped into the ocean every year according to the UN Environment Program (UNEP). If current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
But there is hope that a new UN resolution agreed at a recent meeting UN delegates in Nairobi is a step towards a legally binding treaty.
“There is very strong language in this resolution,” Norway’s environment minister, Vidar Helgesen told Reuters Newsagency.
“We now have an agreement to explore a legally binding instrument and other measures, and that will be done at the international level over the next 18 months.”
While the resolution compels countries to monitor the amount of plastic they put into the ocean, several countries have already taken further steps. According to the chief of public advocacy at UNEP, Sam Barrat, 39 governments announced new commitments to reduce their marine plastic pollution levels.
“Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa announced measures including plastic bag bans, new marine reserves and drives to increase recycling,” Mr Barrat said.
According to UNEP head Erik Solheim, China, which is the biggest producer of plastic waste, has also began efforts to cut down.
“If there is one nation changing at the moment more than anyone else, it’s China; the speed and determination of the government to change is enormous.”
But it is not just governments who have the ability and responsibility to make a difference.
“It is critical for companies to take ownership of their supply chains and for consumers to be aware of how their everyday choices can have a lasting legacy,” said Mr Solheim.
A group of major businesses including Dell, General Motors, Trek Bicycle, Herman Miller, Interface, Van de Sant, Humanscale and Bureo, and led by NGO Lonely Whale, aim to do just that.
Members of the ‘NextWave’ initiative will cooperate in the development of a sustainable supply chain model that reduces ocean plastics pollution at scale. It is hoped that the project could divert more than 1.4 million kilograms of plastics from the ocean within five years.
NextWave also plans to test the intergration of ocean-bound plastics into their products and to reduce their use of plastics across the board. The aim is to develop the first ever commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics supply chain which meets chain-of-custody compliance and also requires third party verification of its environmental impact.
“Advancing the circular economy requires us to see items not as what they are, but what they can become,” said John Bradburn, global manager of waste reduction at General Motors.
“When we work together, cross-industry with small and large companies alike, we unlock even more value from these resources and multiply the positive impact.”
- When you go to the beach, Take 3 to reduce plastic pollution
- Where possible, avoid buying items with unnecessary or unrecyclable packaging
- In addition to your household recycling recycle soft plastics through your nearest REDcycle drop off point
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.