Earlier this month, Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia and a group of colleagues published a paper in the journal Science which calculated that 275 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million MT of that waste entering the ocean – sobering numbers indeed.
The story dominated news outlets in Canada, the USA and beyond including a segment on the CTV National News, the New York Times, and Time magazine, to name but a few. Jambeck et al. concluded that without improvements to waste management infrastructure, the cumulative quantity of plastic waste available to enter the ocean from land is predicted to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025.
The plastics industry worldwide is resolute in its efforts to work with a range of stakeholders to take action to prevent marine litter. Closer to home, CPIA’s Post Use Committee has a number of 2015 deliverables related to tackling marine litter (in addition to our ongoing efforts to improve and expand residential collection networks for all types of plastics packaging waste) including:
- Continue to participate in the Global Action Team to address marine debris issues
- CPIA is a signatory to the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, a public commitment by the global plastics industry to tackle plastic in the marine environment (http://www.marinedebrissolutions.com/). The 2014 progress report can be found here: http://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Education-Resources/Publications/Progress-Report-2014.pdf
- Encourage more companies to join Operation Clean Sweep (OCS)
- OCS is an international program designed to prevent pellet loss and the potential introduction of pellets to the marine environment where they create both a litter problem and a threat to sea life and wild life. The essence of OCS is to help each segment of our industry, including resin producers, transporters, bulk terminal operators and plastics processors, implement good housekeeping and pellet containment practices towards achieving zero pellet loss. CPIA, as the Canadian licensee of OCS, promotes the program to the Canadian plastics value chain and invites all companies to take the pledge and become an OCS partner (http://www.plastics.ca/ocs/index.php).
- Establish a partnership in the Great Lakes region with fisheries, marinas and yacht clubs
- CPIA is actively seeking partnerships with fisheries, marinas and yacht clubs in the Great Lakes to put in place ‘best practices’ for preventing marine litter, modeled after the Clean Nova Scotia initiative, “Ship to Shore”, which CPIA funded in 2008.
- Contribute to organizations on litter clean-ups to raise public awareness of littering
- Via our relationship with the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up, CPIA will contribute to public education efforts and encourage our members to take a stand against shoreline litter by registering to clean a community shoreline (http://www.shorelinecleanup.ca/).
One thing is for certain: CPIA, along with our members and other plastics associations around the world, is committed to the principle that plastics do not belong in the world’s waterways and oceans and should not be littered. Plastics should be responsibly used, reused, recycled and, where applicable, recovered for their energy value.
For more information on CPIA’s efforts to tackle marine litter/debris, click here.