New assessment on Marine Litter recommends treating plastic waste as resource

On April 27, the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), an advisory group to the United Nations, released the findings of a three-year study, ‘Sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment,
a global assessment”.   The study was funded in part by PlasticsEurope and the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

The study is the first assessment attempt on microplastics at a global scale. It offers improved understanding of the extent of the problem and provides some action-oriented recommendations .  It also highlights the need for future evaluations to develop further knowledge on microplastics in the marine environment. 

The GESAMP assessment adds to a recent study published in Science Magazine that identifies the largest sources of plastics in the ocean coming from high growth countries that lack waste management infrastructure.  

As a major fraction of microplastics stems from the breakdown of larger items, "PlasticsEurope agrees that plastic waste should be treated as a valuable resource and recycled or recovered for energy after use”, says Karl-H. Foerster, Executive Director of PlasticsEurope. "We therefore agree with the report recommendation for better control of the sources of plastic waste, through applying the principles of the "3 Rs” (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle) and that the improvement of the overall management of plastics waste is the most efficient and cost-effective way of reducing the quantity of plastic objects and microplastic particles accumulating in the ocean”.

PlasticsEurope just held the 12th Identiplast, an international conference to share best practices in waste management, recycling and recovery in Rome.

In Europe and around the globe, plastics producers work together to prevent and address marine litter. In 2011 leaders from many of the world’s plastics associations signed The Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter. This public commitment focuses on education, public policy, best practices, plastics recycling and recovery, plastic pellets containment and research. Today, 60 plastics associations in 34 countries have signed on to the Global Declaration, and since 2011 185 projects have been completed or are in progress in various parts of the world. 

Did you know ?
  • Selling grapes in plastics trays or bags has reduced in-store waste of grapes by 20%.