THE ISSUE

PLASTIC WASTE

 
 

 With over 8 million tons of plastic flowing into our oceans yearly, we must act now to stop the plastic tsunami. 

 
 
 
 

Plastic waste is polluting our oceans - which we all share...

We need to stop this PLASTIC TSUNAMI!

It is no surprise that the most developed and affluent countries produce the most waste. Countries such as US, UK & Australia have an average plastic consumption rate of 50-70 kg per person per year, compared to less affluent and rapidly developing countries such as Philippines, Indonesia and China with 10-50 kg of plastic waste per person per year.

Also the headquarters for the Top 10 global plastic producing companies are all located in US and EU, while 80% of the total global plastic waste that is 'leaking' into the environment is in Asia-Pacific region (World Economic Forum, 2016). 

In the Asia Pacific region there are over 4,000 inhabited islands, home to 370 million people living on less than $5,000/ year.  With little to no waste collection services, single-use plastics are simply burnt, buried or dumped, often ending up in waterways and the sea. 

An average of 30kg of plastic per person/ year are disposed according to SPREP’s Cleaner Pacific document, multiply that by 370 million people (including Indonesia & Philippines) and that adds up to over 11 million tonnes of plastic waste produced yearly- the majority of which is not being recovered.  It is no wonder scientists have estimated over 8 million tonnes of plastic are entering our sea every year!

 

Issues facing remote and isolated islands through the Asia-Pacific region

 Photo: World of Surf.

Photo: World of Surf.

Collection and Infrastructure: In small, remote communities the collection of waste is often non-existent, due to expensive transport costs, and a lack of waste management infrastructure.  

Community health and safety issue: The popular practice of burning of plastics has sever detrimental health issues for people, in addition the dumping of plastics promotes unsanitary conditions and increased risk of human consumption being ingested by fish and then ingested by people, particularly white bait- a common protein source in Asian countries.

Negative Impact of Touris: The visual and aesthetic effects from plastic pollution o beaches and in waterways is detrimental to tourism, which for many island countries tourism is a major component of their economy.

Wildlife and habitat impact: The movement of plastics from land to sea has an enormou impact on marine life and habitats, destroying reefs, fish communities and marine life.  This impacts coastal livelihoods where communities rely on fishing industries for jobs and food.  

Economic impact: The true cost of waste plastic pollution has been estimated at $13 billion/ year in health issues, tourism, shipping, wildlife, habitats and many other issues (Ocean Recovery Alliance, 2014).

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Circular Economy - solution

We treat one-use plastics as ‘waste’, ‘rubbish’… ‘things to be discarded’, when we should be treating it as ‘resources’, ‘ valuable and versatile materials, 80% of which can be remoulded’ - but only 15% globally is actually recycled. Stopping people from using plastic items is like stopping the tide. But if we valued plastics rather than treating them as waste, then we have a chance to stop the Plastic Tsunami that is heading our way!  


For more Information, take a look at these important reports

' Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made' by R. Geyer, J.R. Jambeck & Kara Lavender Law in Science Advances (2017) Vol 3:7.

'The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics'  (2016)  Ellen MacArthur Foundation, World Economic Forum & McKinsley Centre for Business & Environment.

'Scaling Sustainable Plastics' (2016) Trucost & Ocean Recovery Alliance. 

'Toxic Tide: The threat of marine plastic in Australia'  (2016) Senate Inquiry, Australian Government

'Biodegradable Plastics & Marine Litter' (2017) UNEP

 

For more papers, media released and research on Marine Debris and plastic pollution- go to Boomerang Alliance

 
 
 
 

EMPOWER | INNOVATE | CREATE 

 
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