Ahead of this year’s CILCA 2019 the FSLCI jointly together with the Life Cycle Initiative and the RICV organized a workshop on “Marine Litter and LCA – Global and Latin American Initiatives”. The workshop, which was supported by CILCA 2019 and Braskem, convened around 25 stakeholders from Latin America to discuss the challenges and possible solutions for the region with regards to Marine Litter.

During the workshop, participants agreed that marine litter – and especially plastics – represent an issue of growing importance for the region. In this context it was highlighted that in Latin America the main challenge is not the collection of waste – which works relatively well, also due to a huge informal sector. The key issue would be the waste treatment after the collection. Many countries in the region would often use open dumpsters instead of well managed sanitary landfills, incineration or recycling facilities, mainly due to a lack of resources, knowledge and capacity. It was thus agreed that the conversion of open dumpsters into sanitary landfills should be prioritized. Mainly because they require relatively low upfront investments in comparison to their more advanced alternatives and thus could be easier scaled up.

Participants also discussed current policy initiatives and calls to ban single use plastics and replace them with other materials. In this context they emphasized that these solutions might sometimes cause other sustainability impacts, and thus agreed that the life cycle community needed to communicate better on the need to also assess the impacts of potential substitutes before taking decisions focussed only on replacing plastic.

Finally participants discussed ways on how to best address Marine Litter within LCA from both, an inventory as well as an impact assessment perspective. A variety of projects, such as the Plastic Leak as well as the MarILCA projects were presented, which aim to address some of the issues which were highlighted in the Medellin Declaration. Participants agreed that despite some progress, there is still a huge lack of data and thus end of life modeling remains challenging. A more comprehensive summary of the workshop conclusions will be published at a later point in time.

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