A global model for near-zero ocean plastic

HNY 9246 Edit Edit 2
By Ben Jack

Ocean plastic pollution is a global problem. Although local, grassroots action is key to delivering change, a ‘big picture’ understanding of the challenge our world faces will provide strategic insight and alignment, and act as a guiding light for long-term success.

In line with this, Common Seas has partnered with the Pew Charitable Trusts to develop a global roadmap that identifies the steps needed to catalyse the necessary action and investment to reduce plastics entering the world’s oceans. This roadmap will be informed by the policy analysis Common Seas developed for Plastic Drawdown and an economic analysis, both of which will look at the costs and trade-offs of different approaches to the problem. The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ are delivering the economic component of the project, and we’re part of the expert advisory group.

The Third Global Roadmap to Prevent Ocean Plastics

In March, our Director of Programme Delivery, Ben Jack, joined 10 leading experts in Hanoi to continue the economic analysis of plastic leakage (ie. waste that isn’t captured by other waste management systems, such as landfill and recycling) for various geographic archetypes (eg. regions with low littering, or regions with no municipal waste collection).

When completed, the roadmap’s model will be able to estimate how much plastic ‘leaks’ into the ocean on an annual basis to the year 2040 for alternative scenarios, as well as economic costs, greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on jobs. In turn, this will enable policymakers and other stakeholders to determine the most cost-effective and appropriate way to address the plastic leakage challenge.

Sharing our expertise

During his visit, Ben took part in a microplastic breakout group. Our modelling of plastic waste flows in Greece, Indonesia and the UK includes five of the most prolifically emitted microplastics. This was a great opportunity to feed our national level research into the global model.

Ben also presented Plastic Drawdown to the expert advisory group to help draw out synergies and seek the maximum combined impact from these different approaches. For example, we delivered a global analysis of various policies governments are using to address plastic waste and ocean pollution, and the impact they can have on specific problem plastic items and/or waste flows. As a result, Common Seas is now a core partner in helping deliver policy analysis for the Global Roadmap.

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