“por un medio ambiente en equilibrio…”

South Asia Ramps up Eco-Innovation to Curb Marine Plastic Pollution

06/17/2020

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Intercepted plastic waste is baled and transported for recycling through Parley collaborations in the Maldives. Photo: Parley for the Oceans
Intercepted plastic waste is baled and transported for recycling through Parley collaborations in the Maldives. Photo: Parley for the Oceans

A quiet revolution is underway in Maldives, a low-lying archipelago of more than 1200 coral islands surrounded by some of the bluest water in the Indian Ocean. The nation’s small but determined population of just over a half-million refuses to allow plastic trash to continue poisoning the ocean and strangling marine life.

Residents on the island of Maalhos restricted the use of plastic water bottles, built a small recycling center to separate plastics from other solid waste for reuse, and introduced a glass water bottling center that is now a thriving business enterprise.  Supported by the World Bank, this work benefits the environment and boosts the local economy.

Maldives schoolchildren attend special classes to learn about marine plastic pollution, explore their home reefs in immersive swim and snorkel programs to study their underwater inhabitantsand become Ocean Guardians. Parentsregularly join their children in theirefforts to reduce plastic waste, and prevent it from entering the oceans. Locally organized teams keep the beaches and communities clean through regular interception. The plastic waste is being upcycled into Parley Ocean Plastic®  yarns to replace virgin plastic in making sneakers, t-shirts and athletic wear — symbols for change and eco-innovation. Initiatives like these are just a few of the ways Parley, a global environmental organization, is realizing its vision and strategy for a future without marine plastic pollution.

According to some estimates, by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish

Today, on World Oceans Day, the World Bank, Parley for the Oceans, and the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, an inter-governmental institution, are launching an ambitious $50 million regional project based on the Maldives example.

The Plastic-free Rivers and Seas for South Asia regional project will build on the example set by the Maldives collaboration with Parley, but on a far bigger scale. The seven other countries of South Asia generate huge amounts of plastic waste that clog major rivers and eventually flow into the ocean. The Ganga River Basin, for example, is one of the world’s biggest contributors of plastic pollution to the marine environment, dumping an estimated 73,000 tons of plastic annually into the Bay of Bengal.   

Urgent action is needed. If global plastic production continues at its current rate of about 300 million tons annually, according to some estimates, by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

Plastic pollution of all sizes is found everywhere, on remote beaches, deep ocean trenches, in sea ice cores, snowfalls, and even in the very air we breathe.  Plastic waste has entered the human food chain, as evidenced by tiny bits of plastic trapped in the internal organs of marine life and in our drinking water. 

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