First decade of global cooperation to combat marine litter

First decade of global cooperation to combat marine litter


In the lead article of Plastics News in October, Stewart Harris from the Chemistry Council in Washington reflects on the cooperation of industry on the subject of marine litter over the past ten years. His list of initiatives and projects begins with the declaration by the Global Plastics Association for Solutions on Marine Littering and shows in an exemplary fashion, the breadth of the activities. At the end, he looks optimistically into the future and advocates greater cooperation between industry, governments and NGOs.

In 2011, a number of associations in the plastics industry recognized the need to tackle the challenge of marine littering and initiated a coordinated procedure. With the declaration by the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Littering, cooperation with other organizations throughout the world became a priority in order to achieve a better understanding of the nature and the extent of the problem. It had become clear that there was not one solution for everyone, but that local circumstances required individual, tailor-made solutions. Research results like those from Dr. Jambeck in 2015 had led to an exponential rise in the knowledge about and awareness of plastic waste. The signatories to what later became known as the Global Plastics Alliance (GPA) had initiated a number of projects of varying kinds with the aim of sharpening awareness and increasing commitment. As examples, the author mentions the initiative "Waste Free Environment (WFE)" in the Gulf region, the Malaysian Plastics Forum (MPF) with its annual campaign "Don't Be a Litterbug", and the Federation of Plastic Manufacturers Recyclers and Users in Ghana (FePMRUG) with its first conference on the subject of marine litter in 2019. There were, he said, many more projects from GPA associations. Since the Global Declaration, 395 projects worldwide had either been planned, are ongoing or have been concluded. In addition to this, more than 50 leading companies from the global plastic value chain had joined the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The brand companies, plastics manufacturers and converters as well as recycling and waste disposal companies had committed themselves as part of the alliance to invest 1.5 billion US dollars over a period of five years, above all in the rapidly developing countries.

With a look at the coming ten years, the author says it is now important to intensify the cooperation between industry, politics, NGOs and science. He sees in marine litter and plastic waste a resolvable challenge that can be mastered with the right measures. These include innovations in product design, support from advanced recycling and recovery systems, improved access to waste collection and a better understanding of the sources and life cycle of plastic waste.

Photo: Stewart Harris, Senior Director of Marine and Environmental Stewardship in the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council based in Washington.

The full article "Perspective: Reflections on a decade of global industry collaboration on marine litter" can be found in Plastics News.


  • (1.10.2020)

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