The role of the plastics industry in reducing marine litter and the policies to create a circular economy were high on the agenda of PolyTalk 2016, the two-day conference organised by PlasticsEurope which concluded yesterday in Brussels.
With the title ‘Zero Plastics to the Oceans' the event, attended by Plastics News Europe, gathered more than 250 high-level representatives from the world of politics, industry, non-governmental organisations, media, science and academia to discuss solutions to the marine problem.
PlasticsEurope president and Covestro CEO Patrick Thomas, said: “Marine litter is a global challenge that needs a global solution. We want to find the right answers to marine litter because our aim is for zero plastics entering the oceans.
“The plastics industry is an important industry to Europe. We have a key role to play in providing leadership and best practice. We all share the same goal: to protect the environment.”
Thomas emphasised that the problem was comparable to "needing to turn the tap off" following a domestic flood, saying that the tap needs to be turned off on plastic marine debris.
The event saw the launch of www.marinelittersolutions.com to provide news and information about industry‘s involvement in the environmental problem.
So far, more than 60 plastics associations in 34 countries have signed the plastics industry's global declaration, through which 185 projects have been planned, initiated or completed since its launch in 2011.
Andrew Morlet, chief executive of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, acknowledged the importance of plastics to the broader economy, but he warned that to address leakage and marine litter there was a need for a fundamental shift in the plastics economy.
He said: “We need a global collaboration initiative that matches the scale of the challenge and the opportunity.”
The consensus at the event was the need to engage the whole plastic supply chain to tackle the issue of marine litter.