The stream of plastic into the ocean is estimated to nearly triple by 2040. At the time of writing there are approximately 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in the world's oceans and 46,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes. Each day about 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into the oceans. Efforts to save the world's oceans during the coming 10 years will decide the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years to come.
A monumental challenge
A lot of contrasting responses to the crisis have come out, from eliminating plastic completely to using them as fuels, and from developing biodegradable plastics to recycling plastic and turning them back into usable products. Each solution comes with advantages and disadvantages. There is a need to understand the effectiveness of different solutions, and the corresponding environmental, economic and social impact, it is critical to make progress with regards to stopping ocean plastic pollution.
Throughout the globe, ocean plastic pollution is a direct disobey of international law. A new report presented to a Royal Geographical Society conference states trashing plastic in the sea is already prohibited under existing agreements. The report urges governments that are trying to tackle plastic trash issues to put legal pressure on the countries that are not.
Although proper utilization of technical solutions is a barrier that is affecting the ability of countries and regions to address the ocean plastic crisis. Much progress can be done by improving poor regulatory frameworks, funding mechanisms & business models. Further, the incentives are not always there to scale up technical solutions fast enough. According to The Pew Charitable Trust & Systemiq, a reduction in the production of plastic through elimination, the growth of consumer reuse options, or a new delivery model is the most effective solution from economic, environmental, and social perspectives.
Risks & Opportunities
Plastic pollution creates risk for manufacturers and users of virgin plastics due to strict regulatory changes and growing consumer demand. However, there are opportunities for providers of new and existing circular business models and materials. Working on the trajectory for increased recycling rates and reduction of will create a lot of opportunities for companies ahead of the curve, ready to seize new business chances that unlock advantage from a circular economy that extracts revenue from circulation of materials rather than one based on the conversion and extraction of fossil fuels. Large new value pools can be generated with better design, superior materials, efficient delivery models, enhanced sorting and recycling technologies, and smart collection and supply chain management structure.