- The Ocean Conservancy in Washington released a report outlining land-based solutions for reducing plastic waste in the oceans by 45% by 2025, with the goal of eradicating it by 2035. The cost will be $5 billion a year, with "significant returns to the global economy," according to Recycling Today.
- The report, Stemming the Tide: Land-Based Strategies for a Plastic-Free Ocean, was created in partnership with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment. It notes that 80% of ocean waste starts on land and targets China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, which account for half of all plastic "leakage" worldwide.
- The four-point plan includes "optimizing transport systems to eliminate illegal dumping and closing or improving dump sites near waterways;" doubling the average collection rate of plastics from 40% to 80%; using gasification or other waste-to-energy technologies to treat waste in high-density areas; and recycling plastic scrap and converting lower-value plastic into refuse-derived fuel (RDF).
"Today’s report, for the first time, outlines a specific path forward for the reduction, and ultimate elimination, of plastic waste in the oceans,” Ocean Conservancy CEO Andreas Merkl said in a press release. "The report’s findings confirm what many have long thought — that ocean plastic solutions actually begin on land."
For the long term, the report stresses innovations in recovery and treatment technologies, and developing new materials and product designs that are easier to reuse or recycle.
The group notes that 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the oceans each year, and there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025.
Thousands of marine animals suffer from the hazards of plastic pollution through choking, intestinal blockage and starvation. At least 267 species are affected, including 86% of sea turtle species, 44% of seabird species, and 43% of marine mammal species. Humans are also potentially exposed to cancers from consuming toxic chemicals in marine life.
Merkl said the effort involves industry, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and government. The report stems from the Trash Free Seas Alliance, an effort of Ocean Conservancy to unite industry, science and conservation leaders. Partners include the Dow Chemical Co., The Coca-Cola Co., the American Chemistry Council, REDISA, and World Wildlife Fund.