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Towards zero plastic in the oceans

Solutions to marine litter have been discussed among more than 250 high-level representatives from NGOs, industry, politics and academia during a two-day conference in Brussels.


PolyTalk 2016 was held on 16-17 March and organised by PlasticsEurope - one of the leading European trade associations.


The event also explored some of the current innovations being developed to reduce litter.


Ulf Björnholm, Head of the UNEP Brussels Liaison Office to the EU, participated in one of the conference’s high-level panel debates addressing regional issues and solutions.


Mr Björnholm spoke about UNEP’s role and work in the field, inviting participants to join the Global Partnership on Marine Litter. Marine litter is a cross-border problem, he stressed. No country or region can address this by itself, therefore a global solution through partnerships is needed.


Other panel members included Mehmet Ceylan, the Turkish Deputy Minister of Environment and Urbanisation; Stefanie Werner, Scientific Officer at the German Federal Environment Agency; Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur foundation and Patrick Thomas, President of PlasticsEurope and CEO of high-tech polymer supplier Covestro.


The idea that marine litter was a global problem that required partnerships was shared by all panel members, with Mr Thomas stressing that the global challenge needs a global solution for example.


Besides global partnerships and regional cooperation being highlighted as essential dimensions of the solution, the panel also commented on the importance of the circular economy and the European Circular Economy Package. While addressing plastics in the oceans is crucial, working upstream to prevent waste and proper waste management are just as important, it was stressed.


Several panel members including Ms. Wennin furthermore pointed to the need for better regulatory frameworks and greater awareness raising. The plastics industry was a resource-inefficient one, she claimed, calling for greater efforts in addressing this challenge.


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