Plastic pollution is widely considered to be the most widespread problem affecting the marine environment and makes up approximately 80% of all marine debris. With mounting evidence and growing public attention on the impacts and management of ocean plastics, it is clear that the culture of single-use-and-discard plastic products in consumer society coupled with pitiful recycling rates has created an ever growing supply of plastic wastes.
It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic waste reaches our oceans each year, floating in the surface layers and gathering in large “garbage patches” before sinking to the seafloor. Ocean plastics threaten wildlife and ecosystems, coastal tourism, and even fishing and shipping operations where it can introduce direct costs to commercial marine activities.
Although proportionately lower than plastic reaching the ocean from land-based sources, marine based activities are still a significant contributory source of plastic litter. Marine industries are taking action to conduct a robust review of existing instruments, supporting infrastructure and the challenges marine sectors face relating to plastic waste management to identify where capacity can be further developed to support effective change. The IMarEST directly contributes to initiatives aimed at tackling ocean plastics through our work at the International Maritime Organization and partnership in international projects to support a much needed regional focus and capacity building efforts for plastic waste management.
In light of the broad environmental risks the Ocean Plastics and Marine Litter Special Interest Group (SIG) looks to review common practices across marine sectors and create targeted educational tools to improve understanding of the drivers for plastic generation and environmental importance of litter in order to identify new solutions and best practices.
If you are interested looking for a greater position of involvement in our efforts to address ocean plastics and marine litter, please register your interest in becoming a member of the committee by contacting .