Conserving Marine Biodiversity by Combating Ocean Plastics
Clean Cities, Blue Ocean
Plastic is a relatively inexpensive, durable, and lightweight material—as a result, plastic use has increased at an alarming rate in recent decades. But plastic products are not always disposed of in ways that are safe and sustainable for humans, economies, or environments. Marine environments are particularly vulnerable to plastics’ impacts, threatening some of the world’s most biodiverse and natural resource rich locations.
Plastics enter our oceans in numerous ways, with 80 percent coming from land-based waste streams. Marine pollution can be greatly reduced when waste leakage is prevented at the source. Rapidly growing cities across low- and middle-income countries face unique challenges in managing and mitigating wastes’ environmental impacts—including rapid urban population growth, often outdated and undersized waste management infrastructure in close proximity to coastal areas and waterways, and rising incomes that enable the purchase of more disposable goods. Because of these challenges, many countries are not equipped to implement the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle), and waste and potential recyclables often go uncollected or end up in leak-prone open dump sites.