GUEST COMMENT
No plastics waste should end up in the environment / Plastics industry invites stakeholders to share solutions to marine litter at "PolyTalk 2016" / PlasticsEurope executive director Karl H. Foerster
Marine litter is an extremely complex issue affecting the world’s oceans, seas and rivers, harming wildlife, fisheries and tourism both in Europe and worldwide. Litter in our oceans demonstrates that there are big cross-country differences in the recovery of used plastics and that resources are wasted. Marine litter is a global societal challenge that requires joint efforts.

The European plastics industry firmly believes that no plastics waste should end up in the (marine) environment. Any plastics waste entering the oceans is unacceptable, be it because of careless behaviour, inappropriate waste management or, in certain cases, because of accidental losses. Plastics waste is a valuable resource and should be treated as such. Since 2011, the plastics industry is joining efforts with key players to support the generation of scientific knowledge, responsible citizen behaviour, and proper collection systems. It is only by means of such joint efforts that we can ensure that all waste is collected for recycling or energy recovery.

To that end, PlasticsEurope is organising the fifth edition of "PolyTalk", a two-day conference in Brussels to meet, discuss and share solutions to marine litter. With the topic “Zero Plastics to the Oceans”, PlasticsEurope will gather European and national policy-makers, representatives of non-governmental organisations, brand owners, designers, civil society and the plastics industry to open a constructive, multi-stakeholder dialogue on solutions to marine litter. The aim is to provide a dynamic forum for participants to identify challenges, opportunities and solutions to marine litter as well as to share best prevention practices (behaviour, waste management and product innovations).

Following the inspiring “wake up call” by Prof. Richard Thompson at PolyTalk 2010, PlasticsEurope identified marine litter prevention, together with its waste management initiatives, as one of its core areas of activity. Efforts are still to be made. In 2011 leaders from the world’s plastics associations signed "The Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter", a public commitment aimed at aiding real solutions to address marine litter. The commitment focuses on education, public policy, best practices, plastics recycling and recovery, plastic pellet containment, and research. Today, more than 60 plastics associations in 34 countries have signed the Global Declaration, and 185 projects have been completed or are in progress in various parts of the world.

Plastics are too often perceived as cheap and disposable materials. Common misconceptions can lead consumers to forget the many resource efficient benefits plastics provide to our society. Plastics, even at the end of their life, are too precious to be wasted and should not end up in landfills and the marine environment. PolyTalk 2016 is a unique opportunity to share solutions and act together to preserve our oceans, coastal areas and lands.

Karl-H. Foerster
PlasticsEurope executive director
19.02.2016 Plasteurope.com [233409-0]
Published on 19.02.2016

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