A Plan for Plastic (part one)

Sound and provocative ways forward toward a sans plastic future

How frequently have we addressed the critical issue of plastic in the ocean? Regardless of constant coverage by the press, with images of plastic flotsam and jetsam heaped on beaches, streaming in waterways, swallowed by birds and fish, floating in massive accumulations in the vast sea, ground into miniature beads by waves and rubbing into an undetectable threat, up into the atmosphere to circulate as rain, down into the pecking order, into marine species, and ultimately into our bodies — the plastic issue continues as a physical, or financial, or cultural force that appears to be resistant to reason, powerful action, and arrangement. I’m asked all the time: what can we do about plastic?

The plastic challenge has been met generally episodically — a designing arrangement, a campaign to clean up beaches, a start-up for reused plastic containers — many such free initiatives that fail, once in a while because they are bad ideas, yet primarily because they are part of no overall, cognizant plan. Meanwhile, a new report by the Seat Foundation proposes that the progression of plastic into the ocean will increase by almost 300%, from 11 million metric tons in 2016 to 29 million metric tons in 2040, not an indicator of a fruitful strategy in place to tackle the issue.

The Seat report was prepared in partnership with SYSTEMIQ, self-depicted as a “framework change company,” a collaborative planner, that assists with creating plans to transform how we live and function in five areas of financial endeavor, of how we live and work: energy, nature and food, materials, urban areas and finance. “Our work,” its site declares, “is an extraordinary combination of coalition building, specialist advisory administrations, leadership transformation, strategy improvement, overhaul of markets and value chains, capital mobilization, on-the-ground action, as well as incubation of and interest in early-stage organizations.” Jargon aside, these expectations really do characterize the essential challenge to transformational action for the ocean, and for the land too certainly, the requirement for an informed and integrated strategy that will coordinate legislatures, non-benefits, municipalities, financial backers, and environmentalists to agree on and coalesce behind a bunch of discoveries coupled to a bunch of actions that defy the conventional values, designs, and behaviors that have created, and perpetuate, the issue.

Past documentation of unabated plastic creation, discard, and inadequate reaction, the discoveries include: that ongoing responsibilities by major ventures and states are off by a long shot to the established goals; that there is no single answer for the plastic challenges, upstream and downstream reaction waiting be sent together; that change will require substantial shift of speculation away from creation and transformation of virgin plastic to new conveyance models, substitutes, reusing facilities, and assortment infrastructure; that big league salary nations, as the major makers, ought to take the lead in decrease; and that each delay basically exacerbates the issue.

What these discoveries finish up is, that regardless of assertion and expectation, there is a hidden resistance to change that hinders innovation and subverts progress. The explanation for this would appear to be the reluctance of the plastic business, an item based on oil, either to restrict creation, to concoct and finance alternatives, or to divert its benefit rationale toward review, new forms of packaging, and other innovation without similar environmental and social result.

Legislatures appear to be uninvolved; regulation is restricted; the force of general assessment limited with certain special cases, the plastic bag foremost among them. Where I reside, very quickly, the banning of plastic bags at supermarkets and different locations was enacted, motivated primarily by local activists who endured, from the base up, through local ordinances and political will, demanded change and were effective almost short-term. It was an astonishing demonstration of public interest, and the plastic bag creation and use around here was decreased to nothing.

However, one instance of progress isn’t a plan. The Seat/SYSTEMIQ Report augmented its finding with recommendations, a diagram of steps with examples that addresses an intelligent and provocative way forward… an issue that we will examine one week from now here on World Ocean Forum.

PETER NEILL is organizer and head of the World Ocean Observatory, an online place of exchange for information and educational administrations about the health of the world ocean. He is also host of World Ocean Radio, whereupon this blog is roused. World Ocean Radio celebrates 15 years this year, with in excess of 645 episodes delivered to date.

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