Global action to prevent waste ending up in oceans gathers momentum

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

Non-profit environmental advocacy group,Ocean Conservancy has released data from more than half a million International Coastal Cleanup volunteers who are reported to have removed over 8,000 tonnes of rubbish from beaches, coasts and waterways in 112 countries last September.

Allison Schutes, senior manager of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program, recalled: “Together, we walked over 14,490 miles of beaches, coasts and waterways. It makes a difference in our efforts to stem the tide of ocean trash.”

Among the more unusual items found in the cleanup, the report even identified a piano. Small, ubiquitous items like cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws are said to remain the most commonly collected items—and, according to Schutes, remain among the most deadly to wildlife like seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles.

“The International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is perhaps the clearest expression of grassroots global action on behalf of our ocean,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “But we recognise that cleanup efforts alone cannot tackle a crisis of this magnitude with an estimated eight million tons of trash makes its way into our ocean every year, which is why we invite partnerships and collaborations across sectors.”

The Cleanup is part of Ocean Conservancy’s larger strategy for Trash Free Seas and is said to be one of the ways the organisation is joining with others to help find answers and solutions to address existing ocean trash and eventually stop its flow into the ocean.

Ocean Conservancy has also started the Trash Free Seas Alliance to coordinate across industry, government, NGOs and public interest organisations to identify ways to stop land-based trash from ever reaching the ocean.

"Scientists have identified that by improving waste management and collection in the 20 countries where the mismatch between plastic consumption and mismanaged waste is greatest, we can reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean by more than 40% by 2025," added Schutes.

“Ocean Conservancy is excited to see the solutions and commitments that emerge from the United Nations’ Ocean Conference to tackle ocean trash,” added Jones. “We are ready to step up to the challenge of turning the tide on ocean trash together.”

Organisations that have supported the International Coastal Cleanup include the Coca-Cola Company which has supported Ocean Conservancy over the past 19 years. Last year, Coca-Cola is reported to have initiated a global employee engagement campaign to encourage participation in the Cleanup -- more than 7,000 Coca-Cola system associates volunteered along with their friends and families, cleaning more than 150,000 pounds of rubbish. As part of its commitment to address global climate change, Bank of America has supported the Cleanup since 2002, with thousands of employees participating in Cleanup events all around the world. Other national sponsors include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Altria Group, Inc., Brunswick Public Foundation, Cox Enterprises, The Dow Chemical Company and the Martin Foundation.


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