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Key to Tackling Marine Plastic Pollution

Marine Debris
BALI, KalderaNews.com - Over our lifetimes, marine debris has become a global environmental problem of significant proportions. Plastic makes up almost 75% of all marine debris, contaminating oceans from pole to pole, and from shorelines to the deep-sea. This waste comes primarily from solid waste that is inadequately collected and disposed of in cities on the coast, or connected by rivers draining into the ocean (also known as land-based leakage). In a study looking at several Southeast Asian countries, the economic cost of uncollected household waste was estimated at $375 a ton[1]. In comparison, the World Bank estimates that costs for integrated waste management, including collection and safe disposal in low, middle, and high-income countries were $30-80/ton; $50-100/ ton, and $150-350/ton respectively[2].

During the 2018 Our Ocean Conference side event entitled “Tackling Marine Plastic Pollution: Catalyzing Global Action, Innovation and Solutions,” the World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, Laura Tuck said, “When it comes to tackling marine plastic pollution, the cost of inaction is significant, and far outweigh the cost of action. Solutions can be found by thinking and acting outside the box – by looking to new partnerships, technologies, and new ways of doing business, to catalyze innovation and investments to address this emerging global crisis.”

Indonesia is approaching this challenge from many angles. Under the leadership of President Joko Widodo, Indonesia has pledged to reduce its marine plastics debris by 70% by 2025. It is dealing with it at source through a $1.2 billion Solid Waste Management Program, which includes a contribution of $100 million from the World Bank. The program will provide foundational investments to reduce land-based leakage, which accounts for about 80% of Indonesia’s marine debris input. With contributions from Denmark and Norway, a World Bank Indonesia Oceans Multi-Donor Trust Fund is also supporting the analytical and policy advisory work to underpin these efforts and to pilot new approaches to help Indonesia develop and implement its National Oceans Agenda, with an initial focus on marine debris.

In his keynote speech, the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Luhut B. Panjaitan stated, “Much has been done, but we must continue to intensify and accelerate these global efforts. Science and research play key roles in coming up with innovative solutions, including in shaping our policies, in developing new business models, exploring new technologies, as well as in changing our behavior toward plastic.”

There are many innovations, including new management and financing models relating to marine plastic solutions and plastics waste reduction that could be considered. These range from new technologies and approaches for ocean clean up, waste reduction/disposal, monitoring of plastic debris, and crowding in private sector finance. More importantly solutions are required throughout the plastics life cycle – ranging from upstream policies aimed at reducing plastics use to downstream investments focused on capturing leakages, promoting repurposing of materials, and devising innovative disposal options.

In closing her remarks, Laura Tuck stated, “There is global momentum to address marine pollution and everyone is contributing to that effort. It is time for us to find workable solutions that make our oceans both healthy and productive so that future generations will continue to thrive.” (JS)

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