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Firms act on ocean plastic from Southeast Asia

Initiative aims to stop plastic pollution from Southeast Asia

by Alexander H. Tullo
October 16, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 41

A photo of plastic littering the Manila shoreline.
Credit: Skip Nall/Aurora Photos
Plastic trash litters the Manila shoreline.

Two initiatives involving industry aim to stop ocean plastic pollution at the source.

At the Our Ocean 2017 conference, held in Malta earlier this month, the Ocean Conservancy—in partnership with the Trash Free Seas Alliance, Closed Loop Partners, PepsiCo, 3M, Procter & Gamble, the World Plastics Council, and the American Chemistry Council—unveiled a plan to raise $150 million to fund waste management projects in Southeast Asia.

The project aims at the root of the problem, the partners say. They say only five countries—China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam—are responsible for 8 million metric tons of ocean plastic pollution each year, half of the world’s total.

The partners say the oceans today are contaminated by 150 million metric tons of plastic, a number that could rise to 250 million metric tons by 2025.

Closed Loop Partners, an investor in recycling companies and technologies, will manage the fund. It plans to use the money to support municipalities, entrepreneurs, and nongovernmental organizations in their efforts to improve waste management systems.

“Plastics play an important role in commerce,” said Jack McAneny, P&G’s director of sustainability. “But clearly they don’t belong in our waterways and oceans.”

Also at the Our Ocean conference, the Austrian polyolefins maker Borealis announced its own plan to put $5 million towards a waste management project for Indonesia. Borealis said it will partner with municipalities to create “zero-leakage” pathways for garbage that increase recycling rates while creating jobs and public health benefits.


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