This March, at the 6th International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego, the Global Plastics Alliance (GPA) presented a technical session on our progress and solutions to address marine debris. Our panel featured GPA members from associations in The Philippines, South Africa, South America, Europe and the United States. Together, we used this opportunity to announce our 4th GPA Progress Report which highlighted 355 projects undertaken by 74 plastics industry associations in 40 countries to help prevent and better understand marine litter. The work underway now represents an increase of more than three and a half times the number of projects since 2011 when the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter was announced.

Multi-Stakeholder Ocean Plastic Projects

The Global Declaration directs GPA members to work within six focus areas to help address marine litter at the source. The areas are, education, research, public policy, sharing best practices, plastics recycling/recovery, and plastic pellet containment. A point on which experts agree is that to stem the flow of plastics into the ocean, we must do a better job at collecting and recycling municipal solid waste, with a focus on countries with emerging economies where the demand for consumer products has outpaced the development of solid waste collection infrastructure. For now, that means much of the Asia-Pacific region. As a worldwide alliance, GPA members work regionally and with public and private partners on programs that can be scaled to fit specific communities. We are deeply invested in supporting efforts that involve multiple stakeholders. Our projects work on solutions to keep plastics out of our oceans, while helping to educate community leaders and policy makers about the benefits of plastics.

Remembering Why We Use Plastic in the First Place

Plastics contribute to many of the products we rely on every day because of their versatile, durable, and light-weight properties. What many people fail to recognize is that plastics also play an important role in saving energy and other resources. A 2016 study by the natural capital accounting firm Trucost looked at many different materials and found that if we didn’t use plastics, per-person waste generation would be roughly four times greater than it is now. That study also found that replacing plastics with alternatives would increase the amount of energy and transportation fuel we use, raise greenhouse gas emissions, and result in more litter. In total, Trucost found that using plastics instead of alternatives in today’s consumer goods and packaging reduces environmental impacts by nearly four times. However, if we fail to manage plastics after we’ve used them, the benefits are lost. That’s why the members of the GPA continue to develop and support projects to address marine debris.

Help Spread the Word

He have a number of resources that we want you to share about the GPA’s actions on marine litter. We must all work together to encourage policymakers to enforce litter laws and invest in waste management.

  • Follow us on Twitter @ForCleanOceans and share our content to help spread the word about projects plastics makers have underway around the world.
  • Watch and share our video What Does the Global Plastics Alliance Do? on YouTube and please consider sharing it or even embedding it on any relevant websites or web pages.
  • Share our 2018 Progress Report on LinkedIn and Twitter. Encourage your followers to learn about the work the GPA is doing to find solutions to marine litter.
  • Download, print and share our marine litter facts bookmark.

Let’s work to inform policymakers that developing/enhancing waste management is the most effective way to curb plastic from entering our oceans.