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Tecnológico de Costa Rica TEC
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As a follow-up to the Medellin Declaration on Marine Litter in Life Cycle Assessment and Management (https://fslci.org/medellindeclaration/) which was developed based on conversations at CILCA 2017, we are organizing a
As a follow-up to the Medellin Declaration on Marine Litter in Life Cycle Assessment and Management (https://fslci.org/medellindeclaration/) which was developed based on conversations at CILCA 2017, we are organizing a follow-up workshop to bring together key experts on the issue of marine litter in life cycle assessment and management ahead of CILCA 2019.
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).
In May 2018 FSLCI and RICV organized an initial workshop in Brussels which convened 30 experts with a background in Life Cycle Assessment and Management (LCA/M) as well as marine debris generation and impact assessment and started a dialogue between life cycle and marine litter experts. The workshop ahead of CILCA 2019 brings this important topic back to where the discussions started and seeks to connect with regional stakeholders on the subject. The workshop will update participants on various activities that have been undertaken since 2017 and provide a space for exchange on regional and local challenges and opportunities when it comes to Marine Litter.
The workshop will convene a number of invited stakeholders. If you would like to participate, please send us a message to: [email protected]