Where are we, concerning marine trash?
Unfortunately we are not alone, nor in space nor in time – before us, after us, everywhere, marine trash is a huge issue and we are all liable for it.
All of us.
Main sources of marine litter are land based:
- rivers and floodwaters
- industrial outfalls
- storm water drains
- untreated municipal sewerage
- littering of beaches, coastal areas
- criminal dumping at sea
- discarded fishing gear
Every year, the sum of humanity’s knowledge increases exponentially. And as we learn more, we also learn there is much we still don’t know. Plastic litter in our oceans is one area where we need to learn more, and we need to learn it quickly (…) but we already know enough to take action.
Let’s have a round on what is going on …
Rio+20 settled that global strategy for ocean readiness, mobilizing expertise and partnerships, will be developed to ensure that governments and institutions have the skills, knowledge, and capacity to develop Blue Economy frameworks, and to address challenges on oceans and coastal communities in a long-term, integrated manner.
SDG Goal 14.1 To achieve the Strategy 1 “Reduce marine pollution of all kinds in line with the SDG Goal 14.1”, UNEP, and the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans will:
- Enhance data, information management, monitoring and assessment at national and regional level through development of guidelines, baselines, regional indicators, and monitoring programmes as well as identification of region-specific emerging issues through research
- Raise the visibility of relevant pollution issues at all levels and facilitate science-policy interactions emphasizing socio-economic impacts and promoting relevant practices, tools, technologies and measures
- Raise issues at global level and facilitate regionalization of outcomes of the GPA IGR4 and mandated global partnerships
- The first plastics hit the market around 1950. At that time there were 2.5 billion people on Earth and the global production of plastic was 1.5 million tonnes. Today there are more than 7 billion people and plastic production exceeds 300 million tonnes annually. If the trend continues, another 33 billion tonnes of plastic will have accumulated around the planet by 2050.
- Plastic is the main component of the debris found in our oceans. More than 150 million tonnes of plastics have already accumulated in the oceans, with nearly 4.612.7 million tonnes added every year.
- The most common forms of debris are plastic bags, fishnets, and all types of packaging
- One third of all plastic is used for packaging
It’s all about consumption!
As the global standard of living has grown, the amount of plastic produced, used and thrown away has skyrocketed – and a huge quantity goes to the ocean. The ways to tackle the problem of marine plastic debris and microplastics range from preventive upstream measures, through mitigation, to downstream removal. There is a lot we can do right away to change our consumption and production patterns to prevent increasing amounts of plastic waste from getting into the marine environment:
- “Upstream” governance actions can help reduce the amount of plastic such as recycling (though it catches only a small portion of plastic waste), embargo, financial disincentive and overtax the manufacture and use of plastic materials.
- Long-term solutions focus on behavioural systemic changes to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Upstream prevention is preferable to downstream removal: it’s better (and cheaper) to be clean than to have to clean-up.
Before irreversible damage is done to our seas the Clean Seas campaign is urging governments to
- pass plastic reduction policies
- target industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products
- call on consumers to change their throwaway habits
Understanding the role and importance of environmental regulations is crucial for our politicians to get involved and take action to implement and enforce them, prioritizing efforts to reduce and remediate the amount of debris from land reaching the ocean, devising and implementing sustained actions to prevent, reduce, control and/or eliminate marine ruin from land-based activities. Knowing that avoiding environmental pollution is a better and cheaper option than cleaning up or mitigating the impact of pollution, we should sermon politicians to call for establishment of public-private partnerships, advance campaigns for awareness-raising, prevention and clean-up, urge manufacturers to consider the environmental impacts of their packaging. They should also to advance pertinent regional governance strategies and approaches to combat marine plastic litter.
Current legal and penal frameworks have not been sufficient to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean, mainly because they do not address all the key entry points, also because there is a lack of implementation and enforcement of our laws & regulations.
Production of single-use, throw-away, plastic products, has created a global issue. It is a complex social, economic and environmental problem, which knows no boundaries. It threatens entire marine ecosystems, has enormous economic consequences and affects the livelihoods of millions of people.
Prevention is central – Reduce the single-use plastics, phase out non-recoverable plastics, promote redesign of plastic products to extend their life-span and facilitate recovery and recycling once used – these are essential long-term solutions. Improved wastes management offers the best short-term solution to reduce the flow of plastic into the ocean.
Share knowledge and expertise – New awareness raising activities need to be developed and we need to encourage public-private partnerships and citizen-led movements to slow down or reverse the ruin of our marine and coastal environment.
Behaviour change – Besides improved governance at all levels and full implementation of regulations, long-term solutions should focus on behavioural and system changes such as sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Take action – Marine litter mitigation activities such as beach and shoreline clean-ups should be prioritized in areas where action will lead to the recovery of ecosystems – and substantially increase awareness about the problem.
Marine debris isn’t an ocean problem—it’s a people problem.
That means people are the solution.
The generation and prevention of litter depend on a variety of human activities and policy areas, such as waste management, fisheries policies, consumption, behavioural patterns and product design. Not yet fully implemented, “Design for life cycle” and EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) challenge the manufacturer and designers responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for its take-back, recycling and final disposal. Marine litter can be prevented efficiently through better waste management, namely plastic waste, increased recycling, complete ban of single use plastics and rigorous educative actions and outreach campaigns. Strict execution of our waste laws is a must to avoid plastic litter entering the ocean and marine environment.
Education, information and training These are vital in any effort towards a more waste-wise society. A tailored approach should be used for different sectors (tourism, fisheries, industry, business, general public, etc.) to raise a massive awareness on the sources and effects of marine litter and the ways of reducing it at source.
For Khushi Parisara, to tackle the problem of plastic in the ocean began on land trying to stop the flow of trash at source, preventing it to reach there. And thus, we have consistently approached decision makers to implement the reduction of plastic use (mainly single-use plastics) and the collection and recycling of all plastics to reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters the ocean.
Khushi Parisara plans to launch a massive series of awareness raising activities (among distributors / retailers / consumers) targeting everyone from individuals to businesses, to change the products, practices and behaviours in order to avoid the generation of marine litter. We would like to intensively focus on the costs of inaction and on the costs and benefits of action.
Campaigns should target business and citizens, embracing formal and informal education, with a particular emphasis on children and coastal communities, using different channels for outreaching traditional and social media, community science, etc.
We priorityze to encourage people to observe their toxic choices and guide conscious efforts to make a healthy change. To enlighten people, young and old, to the plight of the oceans, to change the way they think and act, and to incite them to create positive and lasting change.
A huge amount of ocean waste can be reduced if people were simply more aware of how their habits affect the world around them.
Indeed we can take concrete actions every day at our next environment to protect our oceans, but considered the actual dimension of marine trash we can’t do this alone, we have to bring together leaders from industry, business, government, NGOs, corporations, education, all proxy and remote stakeholders.
Then, to bring systemic, durable solutions, to the ocean trash issue, good/excellent policies to strengthen a national focus on marine debris have to be designed, promoted, implemented.
Certainly we were needing, at a national level, a Ganga Act, but now, at a Global level, we urgently need a Samudra Act.
Nasty plastic addiction is slowly illing our marine life with it. To keep our ocean clean and our marine life safe from plastic is a matter of urgency for India, for all of us. At Karnataka we have only 300kms of coast to heal. All stakeholders jointly can do it.
An extraordinary committee should assess and start action
- Outline a national policy for marine litter
- Provide awareness raising campaigns, education and capacity building
- Design effective national and regional strategies to prevent marine litter at source
- Ensure the governance of marine litter by all stakeholders
- Implement laws and market-based instruments
- Monitor their implementation
CHART OF GOOD PRACTICES FOR PORT AUTHORITY:
- Provide waste and recycling bins where boats can dispose of their waste
- Fix information signs urging boat operators to bring their litter back to shore, indicating where their waste can be disposed
- Implement the ‘polluter pays principle’ to fine any boat caught throwing waste in the sea.
- Promote information campaigns to marine professionals on management of waste created on board or collected during fishing activities.
- Foster initiatives such as ‘Fishing for litter’, in which fishermen voluntary collect litter during their normal fishing and bring it ashore.
- Implement stewardship models among coastal population, namely for discarded fishnets and domestic waste
- Broadly inform about these initiatives and encourage everyone to support these efforts towards a responsible behaviour in pollution prevention and proper waste handling.