Since 2017 the FSLCI has been engaged on the subject of Marine Litter, most notably through launching the Medellin Declaration on Marine Litter in Life Cycle Assessment and Management. As part of their current presidency of the G7, Canada will host a meeting of G7 Environment, Energy and Oceans Ministers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from September 19 to 21, 2018. Under the theme of Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy, ministers will discuss global climate action, clean growth and sustainable finance, resilient coasts and fisheries, plastic pollution, energy security and clean energy. In this context the FSLCI has developed a statement on the subject of Marine Litter from a life cycle and resource efficiency perspective.

Marine litter is a global concern crossing country borders. A study by Jambeck et al. (2015) estimated that 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the oceans in 2010. They identified the main flows to be linked to insufficient or inefficient waste management planning, littering and consumption behaviour. While estimated numbers vary, it is clear that too much waste enters our environments, including rivers, lakes, 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. Although the relative proportions of these materials vary from region to region, there is evidence that plastics are by far the most common type of debris in terms of the number of items (60- 80%) on the sea surface, seafloor and beaches, making plastics litter the most important waste stream to address (Brack HG, 2015). Regardless of their amount, plastic debris are also a major source of concern also due to the fact that most conventional plastics are not biodegradable and, thus, their durability in the marine environment is estimated in hundreds of years, hence potentially leading to very large accumulations of plastic particles in the marine environment in the future (Barnes et al, 2009).

The Statement calls on the G7 Environment Ministers to:

  1. Foster the implementation of science-based policies and decision making that considers marine litter from a resource efficiency and life cycle perspective
  2. Support initiatives and projects that seek to fill knowledge gaps and develop scientifically sound assessment methodologies
  3. Ensure that impacts from alternative solutions are understood before being applied on a large scale

You can access the full statement here!


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