The latest River and Ocean Plastics Collection and Recycling Programmes Report from the UK-based plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity Recoup has brought to light a number of pain points regarding the transparency of these programmes, which have a potentially detrimental effect on their efficiency.
The report found that inconsistency and ambiguity in language and operations, may well be undermining the efforts of these programmes to achieve the best results in removing plastic waste from marine environments.
The report analysed 30 global marine programmes. These included collection schemes, technical innovators, and those that manufacture equipment and provide software to collect material and store data.
“Findings from the report showed significant variation across the programmes we analysed, ranging from differences in definitions and language used, materials targeted, environments collected from, and the transparency around the process and end destination of the comments:
“Inconsistency of language is a concern, with some programmes using wording around ‘ocean bound plastic’ to mean material ‘likely to enter waterways within 50km of open water’, he added. “This would mean that water entering any river in the UK would meet such a definition.”
As packaging manufacturers are increasingly exploring ways to incorporate recycledrecycled - even marine - plastics into their products, standards must be put in place to ensure consistent, evidence-based results.
Recoup has developed five key interventions that would increase the transparency and reduce confusion around marine programmes and their operations:
1. Widely understood definitions relating to marine programmes are implemented.
2. Creditable auditing takes place of the programmes and the material they collect.
3. Programmes comply with international legislation.
4. Programmes fully disclose information about the collection and management of material.
5. More research and development of the technological requirements and infrastructure needed to recycle collected material effectively.
The River and Ocean Plastics Collection and Recycling Programmes report is available to Recoup members to download from its website.