Indonesia has pledged to reduce its marine pollution by 70% in just eight years and it's prepared to spend US$1 billion to do it.
Indonesia is one of ten countries spearheading a huge global campaign to rid the world's oceans of two of the most pervasive and damaging sources of ocean trash - single use plastics and plastic microbeads used in the cosmetics industry. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched its Clean Seas campaign in March, as it aims to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic in the marine environment. Indonesia has pledged to reduce marine waste by a whopping 70% by 2025 - a vital commitment, considering the world's largest archipelago is the world's second biggest ocean plastic polluter after China.
According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released last year, more than eight million metric tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans annually, which is roughly equivalent to dumping an entire garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute. If we continue with business as usual, the report found, the amount of plastic waste finding its way into Earth’s oceans could jump to two garbage trucks per minute by 2030, and four per minute by 2050 — at which point the plastic in our oceans would weigh more than all fish combined and some 99 percent of seabirds will have ingested some plastic trash they found bobbing in the ocean.
UNEP launched its Clean Seas campaign to try and reverse that trend by pushing governments to adopt policies that reduce consumption of plastic products, urging companies to minimize their use of plastic packaging, and working to change the consumer habits that lead to so much plastic being dumped into our seas.
It’s not just seabirds’ health at stake. More than 600 marine wildlife species are impacted by litter in the oceans, per UNEP. Fifteen percent of those species that are harmed by ingesting or becoming entangled in ocean trash are already endangered.
Among the other countries committed to the Clean Seas project are Belgium, France, Grenada, Norway, Panama, Saint Lucia, and Sierra Leone and Uruguay, which announced a tax on single-use plastic bags slated to take effect later this year. Costa Rica, for its part, said it planned to reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.
“Costa Rica recognizes the risks and damage caused by the effects of single-use plastic and non-recoverable micro plastics on the marine environment,” Edgar Gutiérrez-Espeleta, the country’s Minister of Environment and Energy, said in a statement. “We strongly favour the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, private sector and all citizens to support national and global efforts. Only through a real and active engagement of all of us, with the help of dynamic partnerships, we will be able to effectively combat marine litter.”
Some private sector actors have also committed to tackling the issue by addressing the contribution made by their supply chains. The most prominent example is DELL Computers, which has created a commercial-scale program to use plastic removed from the sea near Haiti in its product packaging. “DELL is committed to putting technology and expertise to work for a plastic-free ocean,” DELL Vice President for Global Operations Piyush Bhargava said in a statement. “Our new supply chain brings us one step closer to UN Environment’s vision of Clean Seas by proving that recycled ocean plastic can be commercially re-used.”
Head here to find out more about what you can do to support the UNEP Clean Oceans campaign.
A version of this article first appeared on Mongabay.com
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