How the world is dealing with plastic pollution

Monday, 10 July, 2023

How the world is dealing with plastic pollution

CSIRO has published a book shining a light on how communities across the globe are dealing with the plastic pollution crisis. The book, titled Ending Plastic Waste: Community Actions Around the World is a collection of stories, advice and information from people in the field, and aims to serve as a source of inspiration to reduce plastic waste in the environment.

The book highlights 19 initiatives for 15 countries including Australia, including reusable menstrual products, turning thongs into artworks and a recycling app to prevent waste ending up in landfill.

Denise Hardesty, CSIRO scientist and editor, said plastic pollution is a planetary crisis that the world is taking notice of.

In Kenya, one million thongs are found as litter along its coastline per year. Ocean Sole is turning the discarded thongs into artworks. The organisation has recovered and upcycled over 559 tonnes of thong pollution since it began in 2006, using them to produce 65,000 artworks.

Another program is The Plastics Circle, which has created an app to connect businesses to specific post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.

“Quality recyclables were going to waste in countries across Asia. The app creates a circular economy model so plastic can be used again, rather than going to landfill or ending up in our oceans,” said Murray Hyde, Founder.

The Plastics Circle was trialled in India, recovering almost 4000 kg of plastic over 67 collection days, equating to almost six kilograms per person per day.

“Armed with knowledge and the stories told in this book, readers will feel inspired and empowered to create their own organisation and join us in our collective effort towards solving the global plastics pollution challenges,” said Natalie Harms, Programme Officer on Marine Litter, Secretariat of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Case studies highlighted in the book:

Plastic Collective — Australia

The Plastic Collective is a social enterprise to educate and equip remote communities with facilities to turn plastic waste into a resource. Each station has a target to recycle 200 tonnes of material per year, providing economic, environmental and societal benefits.

Many of the resource recovery stations are currently operating across the Australian and South-East Asia region.

Mamma’s Laef — Vanuatu

Mamma’s Laef creates reusable hygiene products for women, founded after a cyclone hit Vanuatu and supplies were cut off. Local women manufacture reusable menstrual pads, incontinence aids and baby nappies. These are distributed to the local community across the island.

The Plastics Circle — Australia/India

Quality recyclables were going to waste in countries across Asia. The app creates a plastics circular economy model so plastic can be used again, rather than going to landfill or ending up in our oceans. It shares information on the plastic type, colour, condition, location and price.

Ocean Sole — Kenya

Beaches in Kenya were littered with thongs. The issue had become so bad that turtles could no longer make nests on some beaches to lay their eggs. 15 coastal communities collect thongs. Ocean Sole then transforms the thong litter into collectable artworks, resulting in a thriving business, cleaner beaches, economic benefits and ocean conservation. Ocean Sole is looking to scale the program to other countries, such as Brazil.

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