Plastic associations are trying to send a message loud and clear: they are working on finding solutions to marine litter. At the 25th annual Global Meeting on Plastics and Sustainability, held in Manila, Philippines (Dec. 8-10), executives from plastics associations met to discuss solutions to plastic waste management and marine debris. At the meeting, delegates noted strong progress and growth in activities undertaken as part of the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter. Under that program, 60 associations from more than 30 countries have launched 185 separate projects to combat plastic marine debris.
Keep in mind that also last week, the 5 Gyres Institute released new research that estimates some 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing about 269,000 tons are floating in the world's oceans [Read more here: More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world's oceans].
At the meeting, participants also discussed strategies to address sustainability by improving the collection, recycling and recovery of energy from used plastics. Delegates heard from Doug Woodring of the NGO Ocean Recovery Alliance, who challenged the industry to work with other stakeholders and to deploy new technologies to better understand where litter is entering our rivers and waterways.
In addition to leading Philippine companies, meeting participants included plastics associations from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Brazil, the Gulf, Europe, South Africa, and the United States, who analyzed current projects to prevent litter and increase recycling of plastic.
"Improving plastic recovery so that all plastics are collected and used as a valuable resource for recycling and energy production is the most important step to prevent marine litter in the future," said Crispian Lao from the Philippine Plastic Industry Association, who also serves as the vice chairman and private sector representative for the recycling industry to the National Solid Waste Management Commission. He called on other industry colleagues from around the world to join in efforts to promote integrated waste management strategies that increase public awareness and provide solutions for the benefit of society and ecosystems.
"We all have a role to play, and by working together we can create a more sustainable future," said Callum Chen, speaking on behalf of the Asia Plastics Forum.
Delegates also emphasized the need for engagement from leaders of other business sectors. "We believe that strategic partnerships with intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and marine researchers offer a good opportunity for real progress, particularly on resource recovery," said Karl Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope. "Our industry has proven that it is determined to actively contribute to prevent marine litter, and we now need the involvement of others to take our actions to the next level."
Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, said, "Advances in recycling and in technologies such as energy recovery, have exciting potential to improve the management of used plastics, and we look forward to closer cooperation with our colleagues in Asia and throughout the world to develop locally relevant and sustainable approaches to recycle and recover the energy from used plastics."