The United Nations (UN) launched a global campaign in late February to reduce the amount of plastic in oceans by 2020. The “Clean Seas” initiative is aimed at mobilizing governments, companies and civil society to work towards this goal.
Launched at the World Ocean Summit, the campaign is aimed at different areas of action. Government authorities are responsible for implementing public policies to reduce the plastic use. For companies, the aim is to use less plastic packaging while also encouraging end consumers to change their behavior.
In numbers – According to UN data, 80% of all of the trash in the oceans is made of plastic. This means that nature has an estimated loss of USD 8 billion. If this situation remains unchanged, there is expected to be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
As a result of this scenario requiring urgent changes, some countries, like Indonesia, which hosted the Oceans Summit in February, and Uruguay have already committed to the goal. Seven other countries have also undertaken this commitment along with them.
Goal – Of all of the types of plastic that reach the oceans, today the two types with the biggest impact on the marine ecosystem are: microplastics contained in cosmetics and disposable packaging. The goal is to eliminate them from the seas by 2020.
New perspective – Aware of the damage that can be caused by improper disposal of plastics, a Mexican startup, EcoDomum, sees an opportunity: turn trash into social housing. In addition to manufacturing paneling used in construction, the company takes part earlier in the chain, with collection and separation of the material.
In 2016 alone, over 500 homes were built. The average cost per 40 m² project is USD 280. The initiative shows that there are viable approaches for plastic to be used differently.
In addition to calling on governments and companies, the UN campaign brings up an important issue: how does changing habits positively affect less harm to the environment? This is where schools and families play an important role in educating future generations, spreading more sustainable practices to reduce plastic waste in nature.
At International Paper, activities coordinated by the IP Institute are aimed at spreading good practices in sustainability and the environment in the communities where the company operates. To do this, the Institute is working in partnership with local schools, offering the EEP (Environmental Education Program), SEE (Social and Environmental Education) and Guardians of the Water projects.
Each reflects the importance of adopting more sustainable habits to recycle, reduce and reuse.