01 June 2010 - Plastics industry urges joint action on marine litter

The European plastics industry (PlasticsEurope, the European Association of Plastics Manufacturers, and EuPC, the European Plastics Converters, together with other actors in the plastics industry) are developing a joint approach on marine litter with Surfrider Foundation, a global NGO created by surfers dedicated to defending, saving, improving and managing marine resources. The industry is unanimous in its view that marine littering is completely unacceptable and that it must work with other groups in society to find solutions, to litter entering the marine environment.  .

The initiative, which includes establishing a joint programme with a leading NGO and working alongside the European Union on this issue, demonstrates that the industry wants to play an important role and contribute significant technical expertise to tackling the problem and shaping a solution.

The European plastics industry’s concern was especially expressed in a debate at the recent PlasticsEurope and EuPC annual meetings involving speakers from the industry, legislators and research community. The industry-filled audience overwhelmingly voted that the plastics sector "should act responsibly and contribute to solving the marine litter problem.”
Dr Wilfried Haensel, Executive Director of PlasticsEurope said, "Marine litter is a high priority for our industry, demonstrated by the intention to agree on a joint approach with Surfrider, as well as our involvement with the European Maritime Strategy working group established by the EU Commission,” Dr Haensel added, "The marine litter issue is complex but experts are united in the view that 80% of the plastic material in our oceans originates from land.  The huge investments we are making to help improve end-of-life waste management throughout Europe are therefore fundamental to help solve this problem.  Even more effort needs to go in this direction in combination with new initiatives to stem other sources of marine pollution and evaluate what can be done practically to undo decades of littering and poor waste management across the world that has resulted in this problem’’.

Alexandre Dangis, Managing Director of EuPC, welcomed at the European Marine Days in Gijon the collaboration with Surfriders Foundation Europe in establishing a joint draft working document which is currently being commented on by different stakeholders.

As a contribution to the EU Commission Green Week 2010 , which this year is focused on Biodiversity,  PlasticsEurope will present a stand putting the spotlight on the marine litter issue and inviting visitors to learn more about the details of an ecological problem which is increasingly being recognised as major global problem.

The stand will feature a visionary concept from Dutch architect Rudolph Eilander called "Plastic Island”. Eilander’s imaginative idea for a floating island built to ‘sweep up’ and recycle the floating plastic debris in the infamous ocean gyres is indicative of the creative thinking that is now being given to coming up with solutions to solve the problem.