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.
Proving the plastics recycling investment case is the best way to attract investors and develop scalable waste management solutions, but proving this market takes time and capital. Philanthropies can play in an important role in incubating, measuring, and growing the waste management systems and actors that larger corporate players need before investing. Philanthropic and investment capital should not be viewed as separate spheres, but rather as complementary resources to solve the ocean plastics crisis for good.
Scientific American: A Green Army is Ready to Keep Plastic Waste Out of the Ocean
While waste pickers are among the world’s most vulnerable and stigmatized workers, they play a critical role in keeping plastic waste out of the ocean. The world’s 20 million waste pickers collectively manage 50 to 100 percent of waste in cities with limited waste management services. Waste pickers’ services are particularly valuable for improving recycling streams through waste sorting and segregation. With growing recognition of waste pickers’ importance, cities around the world are identifying creative ways to include them in formal waste management systems.
Phys.Org: Divers Fight Senegal’s Plastic Tide
Oceanium, a Senegalese environmental association, is cleaning up the waters around Dakar through its amateur diving group. In their latest cleanup dive, the group collected 1.4 tons of debris mostly composed of plastic and other discarded items like metal cans and clothes. The group is moving toward hosting a monthly cleanup dive, but the collected waste often ends up in a landfill near the capital, as there are limited recycling facilities in the country.
The Ocean Cleanup reports that its latest device, System 001/B, is successfully capturing ocean plastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Launched in June, System 001/B operates like a rake that picks up floating plastic by leveraging the strength of wind and waves to push debris into a holding area. This system is the Ocean Cleanup’s second attempt. System 001 was deployed in September 2018 but was later brought back to shore after a piece of the structure broke off.
Coca-Cola unveiled 300 sample bottles made from recycled ocean plastics originally recovered from the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding beaches. These bottles were developed through “enhanced recycling” technologies, which can recycle lower-grade plastics that were previously unrecyclable due to impurities and destined for the landfill. Coca-Cola plans to roll out bottles made from enhanced recycling in 2020.
Indonesia’s fast-growing population and highly urbanized coastline create a perfect storm for ocean plastic pollution. Swietenia Puspa Lestati, co-founder of youth-led Divers Clean Action, says that young people hold the solutions for this ever growing issue. Lestati’s organization works on a chain of islands known as Thousand Islands by the coast of Jakarta, where they partner with businesses and communities to promote good waste management and recycling practices as well as hosting coastal cleanups. Divers Clean Action is one of six USAID Municipal Waste Recycling Program grantees in Indonesia.
Circulate Capital announced that Chevron Phillips will join the firm’s founding corporate investors with $15 million in funding. Circulate Capital CEO Rob Kaplan delivered the announcement at the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo, Norway. Jim Becker, Vice President of Polymers and Sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical, expressed that the funding supports the company’s vision to help create a fully circular economy and achieve the goal of zero plastic waste.
Washington Post: Every Human Should be Alarmed by the Plastic Crisis in Our Oceans
Ocean plastics are pervasive in the marine environment, from visibly discarded trash to imperceptible microplastics that enter animals’ bodies. Save Our Seas 2.0 seeks to build on existing legislation in the US to overhaul recycling infrastructure and install rapid response structures for marine debris events like a container ship accident. However, the United States’ actions alone will not be enough to end the plastics crisis. Other nations must also implement strong legislation prioritizing ocean plastic pollution prevention.
In the last year, significant positive changes in political will, recycling rates, and new technologies have moved the needle on ending ocean plastics pollution; from corporate leaders signing large-scale capital commitments to systematic cleanup efforts, there is a swell of real action to combat ocean plastics. To sustainably build upon this momentum, actors need to communicate better and work more collaboratively to safeguard our ocean.