Ongoing, collective efforts needed to reduce plastic litter in the oceans
Speaking at the conclusion of the second African Marine Debris Summit (AMDS) that took place at the SANBI Research Centre in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town recently, Sustainability Manager at Plastics|SA and convener of the event, John Kieser, said that he was greatly encouraged by the outcomes of the discussions.
The aim of this year’s summit, hosted by Plastics|SA in conjunction with UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme,) the Department of Environmental Affairs and SANBI (SA National Biodiversity Institute,) was to facilitate the formation of a Southern African Network on Marine Debris with the long-term goal of establishing an African network that ties into the global management of marine debris.
“We acknowledge that plastics are the biggest challenge in reducing the accumulation of marine debris along shorelines, floating on the sea surface and lying on the ocean floor. However, we are committed to turning the tide on marine debris through forming partnerships with the marine fraternity’s programme on quantifying and understanding the drivers of marine litter through support for coastal clean-ups and various research initiatives.”
The event was officially opened by the Honourable Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture and previously Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, who said that she greatly supported the Summit as this was where innovative solutions can be identified and promoted so that, over time, we could see less marine debris entering our scenic and much loved coastal areas.
“Marine debris such as plastic items, fishing gear, food packages, glass, metals, medical waste and cigarette filters are an international concern, not only because it washes up on beaches and shorelines worldwide and looks unsightly, but also because debris can be transferred from one country to another via ocean currents. International cooperation is therefore necessary to create public awareness, while developing ways to decrease the amount of debris in oceans around the globe,” Mabudafhasi said.
Anton Hanekom, Executive Director of Plastics|SA agreed with this sentiment and highlighted the importance of supporting platforms where different countries, industries and experts can share lessons learned, strategies and best practices to reduce and prevent the impact of marine debris. The exchange of innovative ideas on topics such as plastics recycling initiatives and communications strategies contribute to scaling up successful approaches to reducing marine debris.
“As delegates and experts who are interested in the topic, you are meeting once again to continue to exchange ideas and seek appropriate solutions to the problem… in line with the theme for this year’s World Oceans Day which reads, “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet: Enabling Sustainable Ocean Economy Development.” Our efforts to rid our marine environment of marine debris will contribute towards the health of our oceans and our people who rely on it,” Mabudafhasi encouraged the audience.
“The 2nd African Marine Debris Summit once again highlighted that most of the litter that reaches our marine environment originates from our actions on land. Plastics|SA is a committed and key partner in efforts aimed at understanding the issues around marine debris within the South African context. The summit forms part of this growing partnership and it enables us to share and learn from our fellow African coastal countries.
In conjunction with Packaging SA we support the aims of the PPIWMP to increase packaging recycling rates and promote the importance of discarding packaging waste in an environmentally responsible way. In conjunction with the Plastics Industry Global Action Team on Marine Debris actions, Plastics|SA remains committed to turning the tide on marine debris.”