During the lasts year the world has finally started to wake up to the plastic problem we have created. At first we all began to see pictures from the beach cleaning projects, but that work is unfortunately never ending. The most important thing at beach cleaning may be that everyone can take part in them – everyone can make a difference. These cleaning projects have also woken up people to think more about it, where is all this plastic coming from and where is it going?
Europe is waking up to the plastic problem
Europe has reacted to the marine litter problems with the EU´s single-use plastic ban, which came into force in the summer 2021. In addition to this is to make all plastic packages recyclable or reusable by 2030. Europeans product even 25 million tons of plastic in a year, but less than 30% of it is recycled at the moment. The consequences of this can be seen on the beautiful beaches of this continent – or nowadays less beautiful.
But one change is still waiting for a solution: EU is even now sending its own plastics to other countries to be handled. Already for years recycled plastic has been sent to China, and part of it ended up to the sea because of bad quality. When China closed its doors from other countries´plastic problems, they were transferred to somewhere else, for example to Indonesia. EU should take responsibility also for its recycled plastic and make a law, which prescribes that Europe has to take care of its own plastics from the beginning to the end.
Already more than 120 countries participating to the fight against plastic problems
Many other continents have also decided to participate for the fight for cleaner waters. Already more than 120 countries have notified changes to the law regarding the use of disposable plastics. Also China and India are part of those. In addition to bans on disposable plastics, there are other ways to overcome the marine litter problems, as plastic taxes, product standards and certificates and increasing producer responsibility. Ghana has internationally been one of the leading countries in its fight against plastic and the first country in Africa, which raised the issue 2019. In the developing countries the resources to reduce plastic waste are worse than in the richer countries, but Ghana has succeeded well in its work. Kenya, on the other hand, denied plastic bags four years ago, which has had a positive impact on the views around. Earlier there might have been plastic on the ground instead of grass, but now it is cleaner. The next step is plastic bottles and recycling of them.
Rivers of Southeast Asia are filling with plastic
According to the newest researches the plastic problem of the seas is coming from more than 1000 rivers and the worst river areas are in Southeast Asia and in Western Africa. It is good that even the worst areas are taking action to solve the plastic problem. Vietnam aims to be a regional pioneer in reducing marine litter by 2030. The solutions are the same as other countries have, like different regulations and laws. Ecuador has also introduced a law 2020 to promote their recycling and reuse of plastic, and single-use plastic ban.
Co-operation over the borders
Ministerial conference held on September 2021 handled an international agreement to reduce marine litter. Although countries have woken up slowly to the plastic problems, decisions have been made quite quickly in the last years. On the other hand, the problems caused by pandemic have once again brought back the bans of plastics: partly the entry of the laws has been postponed and pandemic has increased the consumption of disposable plastic and other rubbish in the nature.
But nature doesn´t wait – we have to solve the problems caused by climate change and marine litter already today, not in the future. We have to remember not only the laws and preventing work, but also the marine litter already existing in nature and collecting them away. This work is Clewat´s core competency. Our professionals can solve even the whole value chain of plastics. Co-operation, professionalism and real work are needed to clean the nature. We are already waiting for the year 2022 with excitement, then we will start our new project!
Article and picture: Katja Vaulio