Addressing the challenge of Marine Plastic Litter using Circular Economy

Features

 

By  Nilguen Tas

 

VIENNA, 24 June 2019 – You have probably seen the images of turtles and seals entangled in plastic and dead whales with stomachs full of plastic bags. Did you know that eight million metric tons of plastic waste enter our oceans every year?

If things stay as they are, the problem is only going to get worse. Global production of primary, or virgin, plastic is expected to double by 2030 and to double again by 2050.

Marine plastic litter originates primarily on land, mostly from single-use plastics and plastic packaging waste that are not properly collected, managed, processed and disposed of through effective waste management systems.

It is crucial to promote circular economy approaches in production and consumption to prevent and reduce plastic waste.

In 2017, the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg agreed on a G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter and discussions continued at the G20 2018 in Argentina.

Now Japan, which holds the Presidency for G20 in 2019, has prioritized the global marine litter challenge and aims for an implementation framework for concerted action.

Japan’s Ministry of Environment asked the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to provide inputs on how circular economy approaches can help to address the problem of marine plastic litter and make recommendations for consideration by the G20 Ministerial meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth held on 15-16 June 2019.

UNIDO’s working paper was presented to G20 members at the Second Senior Officials’ meeting held in Toyama on 18-19 April 2019.

The paper, “Addressing the challenge of Marine Plastic Litter using Circular Economy methods”, discusses how circular economy practices could be applied through the product design, production, use, end-of-first-life and disposal stages to short-lived and fast-moving plastic products and packaging. It recommends policy responses based on the experiences of G20 members.

“The problem of marine plastic litter can be addressed inter alia through implementing circular economy practices. This, in conjunction with optimizing landfill management, will help to substantially reduce the amount of those plastics most likely to end up as marine plastic litter,” said Nilguen Tas, UNIDO focal point for circular economy.

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