Confronting Ocean Plastic Pollution at the Global Scale

 
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As much as 8,000,000 tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year and this amount is predicted to double within the next decade. This number keeps increasing in pace with global plastics production. Left unchecked, by 2025 as much as 1 tonne of plastic may be in the ocean for every 3 tonnes of fin fish. Plastic inputs are ultimately an unintended consequence of rapid development, with the most concentrated inputs currently generated from several rapidly developing economies. These plastic inputs to the ocean not only harm marine environments and fisheries, but also impose economic costs to cities in the form of public health, water contamination, and quality of life. New analyses led by Ocean Conservancy and its partners to conclude, however, that global plastics input to the ocean can be significantly reduced with a portfolio of initiatives customized to geographies where ocean plastic inputs are largest. To achieve these reductions, we need to combine an accelerated build-up of waste collection infrastructure and treatment technologies with a broader circular economy approach which represents a necessary redesign of the future, where industrial systems are restorative and regenerative by intention and design.

Nicholas Mallos, MS is the director of the Trash Free Seas Program at the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. This lecture was recorded live at The Bowen Center in Washington, DC on June 2, 2016.

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