The plastics industry has worked consistently in order to stop the spread of plastics into the oceans while also admitting that more work is still to be done as marine litter continues to be a global threat. As the World Oceans Day commences today, PlasticsEurope would like to stress the significance of two essential elements to prevent littering: proper waste management systems and infrastructures and raising awareness to trigger a behavioural shift in society.

Marine litter has attracted significant public consciousness over recent years. It is a very complex problem affecting our world’s oceans, seas and rivers, harming wildlife, fisheries and tourism in Europe and around the world. The causes of marine litter are numerous and intricate, and therefore cannot be solved by one single stakeholder action on the issue, neither in Europe nor at international level. Plastics waste in any environment is unacceptable, and the plastics industry is committed to continuing its collaborative partnerships to tackle the problem at source.

Saving our Oceans
PlasticsEurope has set marine litter (together with its waste management initiatives) as one of its core projects; supporting several prevention programmes and encouraging stakeholders from industrial, political, scientific, non-governmental and social spheres to act together to preserve our oceans and coastal areas. Since 2011 a total of 74 world plastics organisations in 40 countries have signed the Global Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter. The declaration contains six key objectives: 1. Raising awareness 2. Research for facts 3. Promoting best practices 4. Sharing knowledge 5. Enhanced recovery and 6. Preventing pellet losses.

Operation Clean Sweep
Operation Clean Sweep is specifically aimed to prevent the discharge of industrial plastic pellets into water flows and to the marine environment. To date, many large multinational plastics producers, covering the majority of Europe’s production and facilities, have signed the Operation Clean Sweep pledge or implemented similar programmes. We count 14 associations in Europe addressing pellet loss with dedicated initiatives and, together, we will grow in number.

The Future of our Oceans
The industry has constantly taken measures to fight marine litter but at the same time is aiming to push for improved results in a shorter span of time. Throughout the year 2018, PlasticsEurope has been intensifying its engagement with key stakeholders at both EU and global levels to investigate and analyse the type of plastics items found in the European seas. Furthermore, the plastics industry supports educational projects in order to raise public mindfulness. PlasticsEurope will continue to engage with key stakeholders and organise conferences such as PolyTalk and IdentiPlast aimed at boosting solutions and sharing best practices in order to save resources and better protect our environment.