Towards a Marine Waste Strategy for Africa
Plastics|SA participated in the launch of the African Marine Waste Network that took place in Port Elizabeth recently. Speaking at the event that took place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Anton Hanekom, Executive Director of Plastics|SA, highlighted the local plastics industry’s pro-active commitment to reducing the amount of plastics waste that finds its way to the oceans.
“Plastics converters have long been involved in efforts to reduce plastic marine litter, from conducting research to enhancing product stewardship to cleaning up beaches. Whilst marine litter consists of all sorts of materials, plastics waste in the ocean floats, thereby making it more visible. Many are also resistant to degradation and persist in the marine environment. The economic impact of marine litter is significant and its effects have prompted governments, private enterprises, environmental groups and countless citizens to take action”, Hanekom said.
The African Marine Waste Network was formed following an expressed need by the delegates who attended Plastics|SA’s 2nd African Marine Debris Summit in Cape Town last year, hosted in conjunction with UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme), the Department of Environmental Affairs and SANBI (SA National Biodiversity Institute).
“It was clear that we needed to develop a network of expertise in Africa to address marine pollution. The South African plastics industry is immensely proud to be part of the launch of the first African Marine Waste Network, under the management of the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST), and looks forward to continue developing and executing programs within countries and across borders in a concerted endeavour to better manage marine litter with the help of governments, NGOs, researchers and other stakeholders,” Hanekom added.
“Together with colleagues and experts from Africa and elsewhere, SST has drafted a framework for the strategy. Task teams developed their components of the strategy, focusing on education strategy, capacity building and recycling strategy. During the next 10 months, a comprehensive draft will be developed and shared with international delegates at the African Marine Waste Network Conference scheduled for 5th to 9th June 2017”, SAYS Dr Tony Ribbink, CEO, SST.
SST is already reaching out to networking partners in the 38 coastal and island states of Africa and calling upon of global experts from Asia, Europe and the Americas to provide guidance with: Reducing all forms of debris and other waste on land in order to prevent leakage into the aquatic environments; Reducing accumulation of waste from ships, boats and other marine based sources; Cleaning the coasts, seas, harbours, ports and estuaries; Using recycling incentive schemes and other activities to harness the circular economy; and Finding the resources to ensure that appropriate actions are taken by local governments, universities, NGOs, businesses and other entities - particularly municipalities - all of which are struggling to cope with burgeoning pollution, waste and debris problems.
“Marine litter is a complex environmental challenge that requires joint efforts at the local, regional and global level. The waste that enters the rivers, estuaries and seas of Africa is costing the African continent many millions of dollars each year. It negatively impacts on human health, degrades terrestrial and aquatic environments and kills marine animals. However, plastics and other debris are valuable resources that should be harnessed within the creation of a circular economy. If we take the right steps, this waste can become profitable to countries of Africa. The environment, human health and tourism are but a few areas that stand to benefit significantly if we are to devise a workable strategy for managing waste in and around Africa,” Hanekom concluded.
For more information, visit http://www.plasticsinfo.co.za and www.sst.org.za
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
- Plastics|SA and Packaging SA are signatories of the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, which was signed in 2011 and is an International Plastics Industry effort to combat marine litter by up to 90%.
- To consolidate and leverage these efforts, and to generate additional innovative solutions, 65 plastics associations from 34 countries across the globe signed the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter since March 2011.
- There are currently over 260 projects planned, underway or completed as part of the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter!
- 2016 will also be the 20th anniversary of Plastics|SA’s involvement in the annual International Coastal Clean-Up – the world’s biggest volunteer effort for ocean health. Since 1996, Plastics SA (in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife), has been addressing the problem of marine litter under the auspices of Ocean Conservancy.