Correction: A previous version of this story said "more than 200" countries signed on to the United Nations resolution. This story has been updated to reflect the fact that 193 countries signed the resolution.
- Nearly 200 countries signed a United Nations resolution Wednesday, agreeing to explore a legally binding measure to reduce marine plastic pollution, as reported by Reuters. 193 countries signed the resolution.
- Closed Loop Partners announced in a press release the hiring of Grant Collins to serve as vice president of Closed Loop Oceans, the group's initiative to develop funding mechanisms to prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean. The Closed Loop Oceans initiative was launched earlier this year at the Our Ocean Conference.
- Parley for the Oceans, an organization that focuses advocating for a clean ocean from the consumer level, announced Wednesday the Ocean Defense Fund, a fund to "support projects that raise awareness for the plight of the oceans and take direct steps towards ending their destruction."
The marine litter issue isn't a new concept to any of these groups, and it's been a trending topic in the industry for some time. Startups including The Ocean Cleanup have raised millions of dollars in funding to tackle the problem. And this isn't the first time that Closed Loop has gotten its feet wet; the Closed Loop Partners are running a multi-million dollar initiative to prevent plastic from flowing into the ocean.
Most marine litter starts inland and travels downstream. And while there are just a few countries that contribute the most to the marine plastic problem, the problem is truly global — millions of pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year, for example.
The scope of the issue, however, does present multi-pronged opportunities for the waste sector. Baltimore has two sustainably-powered wheels to collect trash before it reaches the harbor, with more on the way. Some local governments are making moves to ban certain types of materials. Some advocates say, though, rather than mitigate waste or clean it out of the ocean, it's better to rethink packaging to be less dependent on plastic.
And for now, that kind of private-sector initiative may be necessary. While there are some countries taking substantial legal steps to prevent marine litter, the U.N. resolution is not legally binding. Countries have agreed to start monitoring how much plastic they add to the ocean, but the United States reportedly pushed back against anything more specific. While the international community debates the merits of legally binding measures to cut marine litter, cities can take their own measures and private companies can work to produce less-damaging material.