Global plastics industry outlines plans to reduce marine litter

Nearly 260 projects have been planned by plastics organizations around the world.


Leaders from the global plastics industry have announced that approximately 260 projects are planned, underway or completed as part of the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, the industry’s public commitment to tackle plastic in the marine environment. The announcement came with the release of the plastics industry’s annual progress report .

“As a united, global industry, we’ve come a long way from where we started in 2011,” says Callum Chen from the Asia Plastics Forum. “Today we have active marine litter prevention programs occurring in all regions of the globe, and we are continually pursuing opportunities to grow our work.”

Forty-seven plastics associations launched the declaration March 2011 at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference. Saying they recognize their important role in fighting marine litter, these plastics associations have launched and are supporting projects in six key areas aimed at contributing to sustainable solutions. The six focus areas of the declaration are education, research, public policy, sharing best practices, plastics recycling/recovery and plastic pellet containment.

“We’re very pleased with the continued growth in the work we’re doing on marine litter,” says Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, Washington. “Since our last report, we’ve increased the number of industry associations participating as part of the Global Declaration and demonstrated that, united, we can help make a difference.”

“Marine litter is a complex environmental challenge that requires joint efforts at the local, regional and global level,” says Karl-H. Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope, based in Brussels. “We look forward to continue developing and executing programs that address marine litter and work with governments, non-governmental organizations, researchers and other stakeholders. It is critical that we have these partnerships and continue to bring additional stakeholders to the table to tackle this very serious issue.”

 “Whilst the majority of consumers act responsibly, a minority who do not use or dispose of their plastic products appropriately, causing negative impacts such as litter,” says Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary-general, Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “That’s why raising awareness about proper waste management and recycling is so important to us.” 

Since initiating the declaration, signatories have identified numerous specific actions designed to fulfil these commitments across six focus areas and have agreed to track and report progress. In 2013 the declaration also became part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter.  

Currently, 65 associations in 34 countries have signed on to the declaration, and the 260 projects underway, planned or completed (as of December 2015), represent a nearly 165 percent increase in the number of projects since the Global Declaration’s announcement.