The Marine Resources Group of CPMR North Sea Commission together with KIMO International, initiated the international webinar “Waste Free Rivers”. The online event was organized on June 24th together with the Province of Noord-Holland and the city of Zaanstad and resulted in an incredibly high interest from 85 participants from 20 countries and 12 different time zones!
It was an interesting and interactive webinar that provided insight into the problem of plastic pollution and how rivers play one of the biggest roles. Rivers have in fact become “plastic highways” and are responsible for 80% of all land-based waste which ends up in our seas and oceans.
Plastic is a wonderful product, but with a polluting downside due to the way we handle it. As a result, the ocean is becoming a plastic soup. It doesn’t only end up on our beaches but also in nature and recreational areas, in our cities and even in animals. During the webinar inspiring initiatives were shared and solutions discussed!
Solving the puzzle
It is quite a complicated puzzle: who is responsible? And who takes responsibility? That was the overall theme of the webinar, aptly shown in this video, which was shown as a virtual welcome to the region of Noord-Holland.
The Waste Free Rivers webinar confirmed that we are facing a shared problem and therefore, the solution is too. Nobody has the single key to solving the problem of plastic soup, all parties have a responsibility and a piece of the puzzle in hand to act. An actual puzzle was therefore put together by seven parties in the form of commitments for concrete actions in the coming year. It was a highly interactive meeting with many interesting speakers and plenty of room for questions (see full programme here)
Plastic is derived from fossil fuels, natural gas and crude oil. The process of extracting and creating these plastics emits huge amounts of greenhouse gasses. Plastic also contains chemicals that pose a threat to human, animal and general health of the planet. The smaller particles (known as microplastics) that break off and disperse are ingested by marine animals, including plankton.
These tiny powerhouses (plankton) play a critical role in taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water and sequestering it in deep ocean sinks. The full effects are still being studied, but the essential premise is this: when microplastics threaten plankton populations, more carbon will re-enter the waters and our atmosphere.
Given that our oceans have successfully absorbed 30-50% of atmospheric carbon produced since the start of the industrial era, it’s easy to see just what’s at stake. And this leads us back to the plastic consumption on land that is driving this mounting plastic pollution crisis. In the past 50 years, worldwide production of plastic has increased by twenty-fold and threatens to increase tenfold in the next 20 years! It is an urgent problem and requires joint action: from cleaning up to prevention.
We all have to step up and play a role in ensuring that all stakeholders in the entire chain in the plastic system, from manufacturers and producers to government leaders and consumers, are held accountable to the common goal of ending plastic pollution. KIMO and the North Sea Commission will keep working on this topic and will keep you informed about our progress!
For all of you who missed the event, or would like to take part in it again, the video recording of the entire event is available below:
All the documents and presentations from the event are available to download.
For more information, please contact Yolanda Schmal: firstname.lastname@example.org