Ocean Plastics Media Scan January 2020
Disclaimer: This media scan is intended to share current news and information related to ocean plastics. Items included are not endorsed by and do not represent the views of USAID or the U.S. Government.
Every year, Adidas makes more than 400 million pairs of sneakers, the vast majority of which are made from nonrecyclable plastic polymers. Adidas recognizes that it is a major contributor to the ocean plastic pollution problem, and it is laying out a comprehensive plan to end plastic waste in its products within the next decade. This plan involves using recycled plastic at scale by 2024, making Adidas products easy to recycle by 2030, and, in the longer term, create entirely biodegradable products.
World Economic Forum: Here’s how Indonesia plans to take on its plastic pollution challenge
At the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos this year, the government of Indonesia presented a first look at the country’s new plan for tackling plastic pollution, which aims to cut marine plastic debris by 70% within the next five years and be entirely plastic pollution-free by 2040. To meet these targets, Indonesian’s government plans to: 1) reduce or substitute plastic usage to lower consumption; 2) redesign plastic products and packaging with reuse or recycling in mind; 3) double plastic waste collection to 80% by 2025; 4) double current recycling processing capacity; and 5) build or expand safe waste disposal facilities to manage additional waste that is currently being generated eachyear.
World Economic Forum: How venture capital can help stem the flow of ocean plastic waste
82% of global plastic waste flowing into the ocean is produced by just 19 Asian countries. Waste management is often the largest single-budget item for many local governments in these countries, and yet it receives limited support from international development agencies. Investing in waste management and related sectors in top plastic waste generating countries could have a significant impact on the amount of plastic leakage into the ocean. However, the only way capital markets will act at the necessary scale is if investors believe waste management in Asia is a money-making opportunity. Last month, Circulate Capital launched the world’s first investment fund of $106m dedicated to addressing Asia’s plastic crisis. The fund’s objective is to unlock billions of dollars from public and private institutional investors and to demonstrate that investment in ocean plastic solutions will provide financial returns and stem the flow of ocean plastic waste.
World Economic Forum: The circular economy can solve our ocean plastic waste problem. Here’s how
Better waste management will reduce the amount of plastic entering the oceans, but it doesn’t address the issue of what to do with the plastic waste we generate in the first place. One way to approach this challenge is by transitioning to a circular economy, where the crucial concept is the designing out of waste. The key to the success of the circular economy approach is to focus on the design stage, rather than trying to address waste at the end of the product’s life. For plastic, the idea is to change practices and encourage innovations that result in less plastic altogether, such as: designing plastic products so that they can be reused, developing technologies to allow more effective and efficient reprocessing of used plastic, and devising safer alternatives to traditional plastics.
An image by photographer Shane Gross capturing a dead Pacific green sea turtle caught in fishing line won the prestigious Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition. Several entries in this year’s competition featured marine creatures wrestling with abandoned fishing equipment known as ghost gear. According to a United Nations report, approximately 640,000 tons of ghost gear enters the ocean every year, the equivalent of about 50,000 double-decker buses. While all ocean plastic pollution is harmful, large discarded fishing equipment is particularly deadly; discarded nets and fishing lines caused 55% of marine wildlife entanglements between 2000 and 2016.
Digital Journal: How your clothes become microfiber pollution in the sea
Despite the recent attention on ocean plastics, a major source of marine pollution – microscopic bits of polyester, nylon and acrylic – have gone largely unnoticed in the global conversation. A 2015 report from the Ellen McArthur foundation estimated that half-a-million tons of microfibers leach into waterways every year, with 53 million tons of new textiles produced annually. The average family in the United States and Canada unleashes more than 500 million microfibers into the environment each year. Some tactics to reduce the impact of our clothing on ocean pollution include buying less clothing, washing clothing less often, and installing filters on washing machines.
Eight out of ten tourists travel to coastal areas when they go on holiday. During peak tourist season, marine litter in the Mediterranean region has been found to increase by up to 40 percent. The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative was established to bring the tourism sector together under a common vision to transition to a circular plastic economy and sustainability in the sector. The initiative requires tourism organizations to make a set of concrete commitments by 2025, including to: eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging, move from single-use to re-use models or reusable alternatives, move towards 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging, and report publicly and annually on progress made towards targets.
Financial Times: Nestle Vows to Boost Spending on Recycled Packaging
Nestlé has pledged to spend up to $2 billion to increase recycled plastics use in its food packaging. Three-fourths of this money will cover the extra costs of food-grade recycled plastics, while about $250 million will be allocated to a venture capital fund to invest in sustainable packaging start-ups and advanced recycling technologies. The company also pledged to cut its use of virgin plastics by one-third by 2025.
Informal waste collectors are key to curbing ocean plastic pollution and tackling the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries. Financial mechanisms aimed at increasing the value of non-recyclable waste can encourage informal waste collectors’ engagement with a broader range of plastic waste materials, and in turn reduce waste leakage into the ocean. One potential mechanism is a plastic tax with international jurisdiction. If implemented appropriately, the immediate effect of such a tax would most likely be an overall increase in the price of plastic through its entire value chain, allowing for more seamless trading between formal and informal waste management actors.