Ocean non-profit organization Ocean Conservancy rescinds ocean plastics report from 2015 that falsely blames Asian countries only for Ocean Plastic Pollution
The group now says that report unfairly placed blame on Asian countries and was wrong to promote incineration as a waste disposal option.
The Ocean Conservancy has rescinded a major plastic pollution report recently which it had originally published in 2015. They are now saying some of the information was misleading and unfairly “created a narrative” about who is responsible for cleaning up ocean plastic.
The environmental group’s report, “Stemming the Tide,” coauthored by McKinsey & Company, stated that more than 60% of the world’s ocean plastic came from five Asian countries only — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In a July 10, 2022 statement, the group said that framing did not accurately discuss the role developed nations, particularly the United States, have on the ocean plastic pollution issue. It now has removed the report from its website.
Understanding has evolved over the last few years about where and how ocean pollution occurs, and several newer studies published since 2020 point to the U.S. as a major source of pollution.
The group also said it was wrong to advocate for incineration and other waste-to-energy technologies as “acceptable solutions to the ocean plastic crisis.” Reducing virgin plastic production and increasing recycling and waste management strategies are more effective ways to prevent such pollution, it said.
“Rescinding Stemming the Tide was the best way to unequivocally reject incineration and the false notion that this is not a western or U.S. problem,” Nick Mallos, the group’s vice president of ocean plastics said.
When published, Stemming the Tide received support from the American Chemistry Council, a group that now is active in promoting legislation in numerous states to advance chemical recycling. So far, 20 states have successfully passed such legislation. ACC and some plastics manufacturers see the technology as a necessary method to divert plastic waste from disposal.
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While it might seem the easiest option to blame others for the problem of plastic pollution, this recent development shows how important it is that this issue needs to be a collaborative effort in order to resolve. It is time to acknowledge shortcomings. Education starts with awareness. As long as western nations, and especially the United States, are not drastically changing the way plastic is incorporated into every day life and society, we will not see a major shift towards a solution for our oceans in the future.
Since this wrongly published study in 2015 we have not made much progress in the fight against ocean plastic. Although, clean up efforts have increased, overall recycling levels as well as consumer behaviors towards more sustainable products have not changed yet.
Already over 1 Million marine animals die annually due to the results of ocean plastic pollution and the problem is getting worse than better. Latest research shows that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
Unless we initiate a generational change in the way we consume and treat plastics, we won't stand a chance to turn the tide around. While cleaning efforts are great, we need to stop the flow first. Every year of 8 Billion tonnes of plastic still find their way into our oceans. It's time to turn off that tab.