The Ocean Conservancy’s report, Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean, was produced in partnership with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, Coca-Cola, the American Chemistry Council, REDISA and World Wildlife Fund.
It outlines specific land-based solutions for plastic waste in the ocean, starting with the elimination of plastic waste leakage in five priority countries (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand).
Stemming the Tide underscores the role of industry in driving the solutions and catalyzing public and private investment to solve the problem of ocean plastic leakage.
“Companies don’t make plastic with the intent of it ending up in the ocean, and we acknowledge the strong role industry must play in order to help eliminate ocean plastic waste by 2035,” says Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics.
As part of the company’s efforts to divert plastic waste from landfills and prevent it from ending up in the ocean, Dow is participating in a project that aims to increase recycling rates and divert flexible packaging from landfills.
Eight million metric tons of plastic leak into the world’s ocean every year and the amounts continue to grow. Without concerted global action, there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, the report says.
With at least 80 percent of ocean plastic originating from land-based sources, the report’s findings propose a four-point solution to cutting leakage by 45 percent in the next 10 years with the ultimate goal of eradicating the issue by 2035. The report estimates that total costs for implementing these solutions could be contained at $5 billion a year, with significant returns to the global economy.
In the short and medium term, the report calls for accelerated development of waste collection and plugging of post-collection leakage, followed by the development and rollout of commercially viable treatment options. In the long term, the report identifies the critical need for innovations in recovery and treatment technologies, development of new materials and product designs that better facilitate reuse or recycling.
The report further emphasizes the need for all approaches and solutions to be tailored at the regional level, specifically in the five priority countries identified, which account for half of all plastic leakage globally. While countries have made major improvements in curbing plastic leakage, greater global support is needed to scale impact swiftly in these priority regions, the report says.