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New reports on marine litter show that we are headed for an ecological crisis in our oceans. However, with appropriate actions we can reduce the impact significantly.

One report “The new plastics economy: rethinking the future of plastics” by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the World Economic Forum and McKinsey consultants, focuses on solutions and sets out a vision for dealing with plastics on a global scale. It proposes a drastic increase of recycling and reuse of plastics in order to prevent marine litter and other negative consequences of the current system.

A second report “Study to support the development of measures to combat marine litter sources,” by Eunomia for the European Commission’s DG Environment, looks at the possibilities of incentivising waste disposal at ports. It says that the lack of harmonisation in cost recovering systems are a disincentive to deliver waste ashore and that garbage related enforcement should be improved. It also assessed two litter reduction goals, as there are:

  • the 30% reduction target, set in the EU Circular Economy Package (as proposed in Com (2014)398); and
  • the OSPAR action, addressing key waste from fishing and aquaculture industries: total stocks of debris in oceans are estimated to be of 130,000 to 550,000 tons from the fishing industry and 95,000 to 655,000 tons from aquaculture.

With respect to land based waste, Germany and Austria developed a model to verify the input of plastic waste in oceans. The model called “Vom Land Ins Meet-Modell zur Erfassung landbasierter Kunstoffabfälle” is developed by the Bavarian Consultic Marketing & Industrieberatung Gmbh for the Industry of Plastic packages.