Session Chair: Erica Nunez, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This session will explore ways in which the international community has taken action to reduce plastic pollution within our oceans

The Global Single-Use Case Studies session will explore ways in which the international community has taken action to reduce plastic pollution within our oceans. This session will include four dynamic presentations representing various parts of the globe discussing strategies and solutions to the single-use plastic pollution issue. The first speaker takes a broad approach and will examine international policies and legislative tools aimed to reduce plastic pollution, specifically single-use plastics and microbeads. The second presentation will examine how a three-year study conducted on various local beaches within a Middle Eastern country led to legislation that since its effective date, has significantly reduced the amount of plastic found on the coast in some areas.

This session  will include action plans that other communities and governments can utilize to reduce the most commonly found debris on local beaches. Another presentation will focus on the Wider Caribbean Region and analyze approaches for the successful enforcement of a plastic bag ban that could potentially be duplicated in other Small Island Developing States. Lastly, the final presentation will be from an non-governmental organization in Southeast Asia led by local youth who have championed an initiative to raise awareness through volunteerism and outreach to educate the public on the plastic waste problem within their community. This vibrant group of young people have spoken at a variety of local and international events with the hope to energize the next generation of leaders in the global fight against marine plastic pollution.




Plastic Bag Ban Legislation in the Caribbean Region

presenting: Martina De Marcos (UNSW, ); authors: Martina De Marcos (UNSW, United States)

Plastics, including plastic bags, are a significant source of litter, causing harm to animals by ingestion or entanglement. Plastic bags also clog up water drains, causing floods, threatening humans. Problems related to plastic bags have led to regulations in many countries around the globe, including, in recent years Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The need to stop indiscriminate consumption of single-use plastic bags is particularly relevant for Countries of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) as the most significant downstream impact of litter on the environment is marine pollution. This region has an abundance of natural assets, with the majority of the population living within 10 kilometres of the ocean and with vital economic sectors dependent on vulnerable coastal ecosystems. Also, SIDS has poor waste management infrastructure which exacerbates the need for single-use plastic reduction. Places, where a single-use plastic bag ban has been introduced, include Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Rincón, a municipality in Puerto Rico.

This session will present SIDS’ case studies by analysing approaches for the successful enforcement of the ban. Methods analysed include incentives, enforcement, education, capacity building and funding from international agencies. The analysis shows the importance of (i) using a combination of different approaches for successful enforcement, (ii) education and capacity building being pivotal in the realization of the plastic bag ban -successful education programs led to very little opposition to the ban and big compliance rates; and (iii) in some cases, the aid from international agencies.


International policies to reduce plastic marine pollution from single-use plastics (plastic bags and microbeads): A review

presenting: Dirk Xanthos (Dalhousie University, Canada); authors: Dirk Xanthos (Dalhousie University, Canada), Tony Walker (Dalhousie University)

and microbeads) are a significant source of this pollution. Although research outlining environmental, social, and economic impacts of marine plastic pollution is growing, few studies have examined policy and legislative tools to reduce plastic pollution, particularly single-use plastics (plastic bags and microbeads). This paper reviews current international market-based strategies and policies to reduce plastic bags and microbeads. While policies to reduce microbeads began in 2014, interventions for plastic bags began much earlier in 1991. However, few studies have documented or measured the effectiveness of these reduction strategies. Recommendations to further reduce single-use plastic marine pollution include: (i) research to evaluate effectiveness of bans and levies to ensure policies are having positive impacts on marine environments; and (ii) education and outreach to reduce consumption of plastic bags and microbeads at source.


Single-use debris on the Israeli coast

presenting: Galia Pasternak (University of Haifa, Israel); authors: Galia Pasternak (University of Haifa, Israel), Dov Zviely (School of Marine Sciences, Ruppin Academic Center,), Asaf Ariel (Ecoocean), Ehud Spanier (Department of Maritime Civilizations, The Leon H. Charney School for Marine Sciences, University of Haifa), Christine Ribic (Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin)

In a study conducted on the beaches of Israel between 2012-2015, 19 surveys were conducted on eight undeclared beaches, with the aim of characterizing the marine debris, its distribution and sources, to find solutions to this problem. Ninety percent of the debris was made of plastic. Thirty-two percent of the debris found on the beaches were single-use items (e.g., food-related items such as cutlery and food packaging), followed by plastic bags (23%), cigarette butts (12%), bottle caps (11%), and plastic bottles (5%). The high percentage of plastic bags vs. the low number of drinking bottles (most probably due to the effectiveness of the Israeli bottle recycling law) found on the Israeli coast, was used as part of the argument for new legislation in the Israeli parliament to charge for plastic grocery bags. To check the effect of the new levy on plastic grocery bags, which entered into force in January 2017, an additional survey was conducted in June 2017 on five beaches. The relative amount of plastic bags detected in the new survey decreased by 50%. Using these findings, we are offering action plans to reduce the most abundant items on the beach. Our work indicates that changing people’s behavior to reduce the use of disposable items (i.e., reduction in origin), most of which are made of plastic, will likely significantly reduce the amount of marine debris on Israeli beaches.


Taiwan’s PET Bottle Recycling System and Application

presenting: Yiong-Shing Sheu (Recycling Fund Management Board, Taiwan); authors: Hsin-Chen Sung (Recycling Fund Management Board, Taiwan), Hsin-Chen Sung (Recycling Fund Management Board), Shou-Chien Lee (Recycling Fund Management Board)

PET bottle has been widely recognized as a major pollutant to the marine and costal environment. Taiwan has been recycling PET bottles since 1988. In 2016, Taiwan recycled 97%, or 102,337 metric tons, of waste PET bottles. From 1988 to 1997, the industry associations, were required by the Amendment of Waste Disposal Act (WDA) of 1988 to be responsible for the collection and recycling. The 1997 Amendment required the manufacturers and importers (responsible enterprises hereafter) to pay recycling fees, instead of doing the recycling by themselves, to the recycling funds managed by the Recycling Fund Management Board under Taiwan EPA. At least 70% of the fund revenue was distributed to trust fund for subsidizing collection and recycling businesses. The rest of the fund revenue went to the special income fund for the audit of responsible enterprises, certification of collection and recycling volumes, support local collection and recycling programs, education, communication, and administration. Sellers, such as convenient stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, were also required by the law to accept used bottles returned by consumers. The waste pickers collected valuable recyclables, including PET bottles, for living. The municipalities, which receive grants from the recycling funds, are responsible for collection recyclables free of charge from the residents. The collected PET bottles were sorted, baled and shipped to 16 recycling plants for label-removing, washing, advanced sorting and purification. The scraps of PET bottles were turned to post-consumer resins, which can be used for bottles, fibers, sheets or other applications. Some brand names, such as Coca Cola and Adidas, used Taiwan’s recycled PET in their products. The recycling of PET in Taiwan has proved to be a success in solving plastics pollution problems.