22may(may 22)12:30 pm23(may 23)2:00 pmWorkshop: Connecting Expert Communities to Address Marine Litter in Life Cycle Assessment


22 (Tuesday) 12:30 pm - 23 (Wednesday) 2:00 pm CEST(GMT+00:00) View in my time

Event Details

The invitation-only workshop will be organized by the Forum for Sustainability through Life Cycle Innovation (FSLCI) – the global life cycle community organization – in collaboration with the Red Iberoamericana de Ciclo de Vida (RICV) and is kindly supported by Plastics Europe and Braskem.

As a follow-up to the Medellin Declaration on Marine Litter in Life Cycle Assessment and Management (https://fslci.org/medellindeclaration/) launched by the FSLCI and RICV last year, we are organizing the workshop to bring together key experts in order to lay the ground work for the establishment of a working group of experts interested in addressing the issue of marine litter in life cycle assessment and management.

Marine litter is a global concern crossing country borders. A recent study has estimated that 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the oceans in 2010 (Jambeck et al, 2015), linking it to insufficient waste management, littering and consumption behaviour: Estimated numbers vary, but it is clear that too much waste enter rivers, seas and oceans which have turned into the world’s biggest landfill, causing environmental, economic, and social damage. Marine litter or debris consists of a range of materials including plastic, metal, wood, rubber, glass and paper, and although the relative proportions of these materials vary from region to region, there is evidence that plastics are by far the type of debris most found in terms of the number of items (60- 80%) on the sea surface, sea floor and beaches, putting plastics on the spot of concern (Brack HG, 2015). Besides their amount, plastic debris are a source of concern as most of conventional plastics are not biodegradable and their durability in the marine environment is estimated in hundreds of years leading, in the future, to a potential huge accumulation of plastic particles in the marine environment (Barnes et al, 2009).

Plastics in the oceans have a negative effect not only on marine life and ecosystems overall, but they can also have a potential impact on human health, for example through the consumption of plastic fragments in seafood. Minimizing these impacts is crucial, as highlighted by the Call for Action “Our Ocean, Our Future” from last year’s UN’s Ocean Conference (United Nations, 2017). Apart from the UN the OECD, European Commission, EPA Network, UNEP and recently the G7 and many other stakeholders have thus all placed marine litter on their agendas. In addition to the aspirational target for marine litter reduction in the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive, regional action plans are under development, with key measures that focus on improved waste management and changes in human behaviour that result in the responsible disposal route for end of life materials.

At the same time, the Medellin Declaration (Sonnemann and Valdivia, 2017) highlighted that currently life cycle assessment (LCA), as one of the most widely used sustainability assessment tools for greening the economy (UNEP, 2012), is not adequately addressing the impacts on the environment generated due to marine debris, such as plastics and microplastics. It also noted that there does not seem to be any life cycle assessments on products that include plastics and adequately addresses the challenge of marine litter. Indeed, there is still an overall need to assess marine ecological impacts in life cycle assessment in a meaningful way (Woods et al, 2006).

Given the magnitude of the impacts caused by marine debris, plastics and microplastics in the oceans and as response to the public concern on these impacts echoed at last year’s Ocean Conference, we are organizing an initial workshop to link different expert communities together to start a process towards addressing the issue of marine litter within life cycle assessment and management.

The workshop will convene around 30 experts with a background in Life Cycle Assessment and Management (LCA/M) as well as marine debris generation and impact assessment to open a dialogue between life cycle and marine litter experts which would ultimately result in a process that builds the basis for inclusion of marine litter in LCA.

We would also like to encourage workshop participants to use their new contacts and insights to propose and prepare joint project proposals on the subject. Finally, we expect that the workshop could play a role in highlighting the need to consider the subject in Horizon 2020 and follow-up programs on the European Level. Taking these elements together we expect that the workshop would lead to a variety of positive follow-up effects that generate not only attention, but activity and progress in response to and in line with the Call for Action by the UN Ocean Conference (United Nations, 2017).

The workshop is kindly supported by Braskem and the organizers of CILCA 2019.



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