A new global alliance supports a community-investment project called Renew Oceans as part of its commitment to reduce plastic waste in the environment.
OCEAN PLASTIC HAS become a defining problem of our time, and a challenge to the world’s brightest thinkers and innovators. With a significant portion of plastic waste entering through rivers, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is supporting the work of Renew Oceans to address the lack of waste infrastructure in developing regions.
Research published in Environmental Science & Technology in 2017 shows that rivers collectively dump anywhere from a half to three million tons of plastic into the seas every year. According to the data, ten rivers alone carry 93 percent of the river-borne plastics that end up in the ocean.
To help prevent this plastic waste from reaching the ocean, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste will sponsor Renew Oceans, a localized engagement and investment project focused on high-leakage rivers. As a Founding Global Oceans Sponsor, the Alliance will contribute its materials and logistics capabilities. The National Geographic Society has also supported the Renew Oceans initiative.
First, using proprietary “biofence” technology designed by Renewlogy, plastic waste is collected as it flows down rivers and tributaries. ReFences divert the plastic and thus keep if from accumulating and entering the ocean. As envisioned, the program has major side benefits.
The plastic collected across the developing world will be converted into other usable materials, while waste pickers will receive fair compensation directly tied to the value of the plastics collected.
Renew Oceans also offers technology to convert plastic collected by marine vessels into fuel right on the ship, which is then immediately available for use on-board. As island communities struggle with high energy costs and limited space for landfill plastic, this technology helps solve two problems at once. A local circular solution creates another win-win scenario.
The collaboration of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste with Renew Oceans is an example of how the entire plastics value chain – companies that make, use, sell, process, collect, and recycle plastics – can work together with innovators to test and expand targeted strategies to help end plastic waste in the environment and benefit us all.