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Marine Wildlife pays high price for European single-use plastic addiction

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We now live in a world where plastic dominates the consumer marketplace and its use is ingrained in our daily lives. The coalition Seas at Risk, of which OceanCare is a member, published a new study that provides damning figures of the quantities of single-use, on-the-go plastic items that expose the lifestyle choices and consumption patterns in the EU. The study estimates that 46 billion beverage bottles, 16 billion coffee cups, 580 billion cigarette butts, 2.5 billion takeaway packaging and 36.4 billion drinking straws are consumed annually in the 28 EU countries.

These figures show the massive scale of the single-use plastic problem within Europe, which contributes significantly to the marine plastic pollution in the surrounding waters. According to the study, these plastic items account for roughly 50% of beach litter in Europe. The authors identify different policy actions to address the issue.

“While there is hardly any place left on the planet where we don’t witness the devastating impacts of our plastic legacy and single-use plastic footprint, the real horror takes place every minute in our oceans, far from sight, but causing millions of animals to become entangled, injured and killed by marine debris”, says Fabienne McLellan Director for International Relations at OceanCare, who currently attends the 12th¬†Conference of Parties to CMS (CMS COP12) in Manila.

OceanCare strongly recommended the adoption of the respective Marine Debris Resolution which now includes the requested addition by OceanCare to phase out the most hazardous toxic plastics. The Resolution also emphasises the relevance of measures to mitigate microplastics and ghost gear, which are problems of global impact.

“The problem is far too big to be resolved on paper. And while the Chilean government decided to ban plastic bags in more than 100 coastal communities this week, providing another positive signal, government action alone won’t be enough. The private sector needs to step up efforts to promote and engage in an innovative circular economy. And every individual needs to understand that we cannot pass on our own responsibility to others but need to change our habits rapidly”, says McLellan of OceanCare.

The CMS Management of Marine Debris Resolution and Decision (Doc 24.4.1) is currently pending adoption by the Plenary of the CMS COP12 on Saturday, 28th October 2017.

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