Estimating the Economic Impacts of Marine Debris

Session Chair: Amy Uhrin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program

This session will introduce economic concepts and theory relevant to public policy issues and concerns about marine debris, estimate costs associated with marine debris, evaluate the economic benefit of removal/cleanup programs, and/or highlight successful market-based instruments for preventing introduction of marine debris.

Marine debris can affect several economic sectors including aquaculture, fisheries, commercial shipping, recreational boating, local coastal governments, coastal tourism, and emergency response services. The costs associated with marine debris can be direct (i.e., beach cleanups, gear replacement) or indirect (i.e., impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services). To date, few studies have addressed the costs to society associated with marine debris, limiting the ability to construct effective and efficient policy instruments. In this session, we welcome presentations that introduce economic concepts and theory relevant to public policy issues and concerns about marine debris, estimate costs associated with marine debris, evaluate the economic benefit of removal/cleanup programs, and/or highlight successful market-based instruments for preventing introduction of marine debris.

Remote Sensing of Marine Debris In Coastal Areas

Session Chair: Peter Murphy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program

This session will advance the efforts for the detection, quantification and prioritization of marine debris in shoreline and nearshore environments, including techniques for application of emerging technologies such as UAS and automated post-processing.

Better understanding of the amount, composition and location of marine debris has important applications in improved understanding of sources, impact pathways, and optimal solutions both by prevention and removal.

Remote sensing, here meaning primarily aerial survey, has proven capacity to provide high-value products that aid in assessing the presence, concentration and composition of debris in multiple environments. The use of georeferenced photo survey of shorelines to quantify marine debris goes back decades, but is continuing to evolve; integrating new technologies and techniques to provide more capable and flexible products and tools. Likewise, the marine debris community is also working to integrate new platforms including UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) of different sizes and capabilities to answer multiple debris questions. Regardless of platform, surveys create huge amounts of data, in imagery, video, or other formats that must be analyzed in a frequently labor-intensive effort. Advancements in post processing techniques, including automated analysis have the capacity to improve the efficiency and accuracy of these efforts.

This session will bring together experts in aerial survey operations as well as post processing techniques to provide observations and lessons learned that can help guide the planning of future aerial surveys; identifying key questions and decisions that will result in the best mix of tools and techniques for the identified need.

Remote Sensing of Marine Debris in Open Ocean

Session Chairs: Nikolai Maximenko, University of Hawaii; Delwyn Moller, Remote Sensing Solutions; Bertrand Chapron, IFREMER; Paolo Corradi, ESTEC; Victor Martinez Vicente, Plymouth Marine Laboratory

This session is catered to engineers, scientists and responders who will overview remote technologies available for surveillance of marine debris and factors, controlling its drift, and present existing products, results of their applications and ideas for future missions.

 Traditional methods based on counting marine debris items provide fragmentary information not sufficient to help close regional and global balances of the plastic pollution. Only remote sensing, covering great areas, can fill gaps in sparse in situ point observations. Complex composition of debris, including broad ranges of sizes, shapes, and chemical composition, makes it not possible to observe all types with any single sensor.

This session invites presentations demonstrating feasibility or publishing new ideas of remote sensing technologies that can help identify, quantify, and/or track various types of plastic pollution or other types of marine debris on the ocean surface or on the shoreline.

Understanding the drift of marine debris in the ocean requires good knowledge of the dynamics of the ocean-atmosphere surface circulation and is important for a growing list of operational activities, such as search and rescue and response to oil spills. Presently, even large objects can't be followed by the satellite observing system. Examples include missing flight MH370 and millions of tons of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan and 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, whose pathways and fate are not known or known very vaguely.

Applications, derived from satellite measurements of oceanic and atmospheric variables, calibrated with the data of marine debris and used to advance the understanding of marine debris drift, are also welcome at our session.

Local to Global Partnerships: Overcoming Debris Barriers through Collaboration

Session Chairs: Eben Schwartz, California Coastal Commission, Nicholas Mallos, Ocean Conservancy

This session will inform individuals, organizations, and decision makers on the value of leveraging partnerships and collective expertise to achieve progress on marine debris solutions.

 The marine debris community is filled with silos in which various forms of work, such as research, education, and advocacy, may ultimately inform one another but generally advance independently. There are various efforts underway to break through those barriers to allow for greater collaboration and cross-cutting work. These efforts have met with some success: the International Coastal Cleanup, for example, has been underway for more than three decades, and has shown the power and promise of working together towards a single goal—keeping trash off beaches and out of waterways and the ocean.

Other efforts, such as the West Coast Marine Debris Alliance, have also enjoyed some success, such as the publication of a West Coast Marine Debris Strategy that has helped inspire local action, but have also demonstrated some of the challenges associated with cross-cutting and cross-political boundary efforts. Still others, such as the Surfrider Foundation, combine a global perspective and national campaigns with a focus on local chapters undertaking projects within communities. This session will examine these and other efforts designed to increase and promote regional and international partnerships to better coordinate marine debris work, share resources and best practices, avoid duplication of effort (increasingly important in a world of diminishing financial resources), and move the marine debris community forward in a collaborative, informed fashion.

Pushing the boundaries towards the detection of the very small plastic debris

Session Chairs: Alexandra ter Halle, CNRS Laboaroire des IMRCP; Julien Gigault, CNRS Geoscience Rennes

 This session focuses on microplastics, the remaining 99% part of marine litter at the micrometric and nanoscale.

Plastic debris once discarded in the environment undergoes fragmentation. As more and more data are available on microplastics occurrence (1 – 5 mm) in the environment, it has become indispensable to collect data about the abundance of plastic debris at the micrometric scale and at the nanometric scale. The ecotoxicological evaluation of these very small plastic debris has already started but with very little knowledge about their concentrations in natural waters. There is a need to develop reliable methods for counting and measuring plastic particles at the micrometric and nanometric scale. Could they be automated or semi-automated? How can the fate of microplastics be understood in this context? What are the parameters (density, surface characteristics, and shape) that need to be known in order to gain a predictive knowledge of the subject?


Global Plastics Alliance Efforts to Address Marine Debris

Session Chair: Stewart Harris, American Chemistry Council

This session looks at Global Plastics Alliance progress. Established in 2011 at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference, the Global Plastics Alliance has grown to 70 associations in 34 countries, and implemented over 260 projects to address marine debris under the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter.

Established in 2011 at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, the Global Plastics Alliance (GPA) has grown to 70 associations in 34 countries. As of the 2016 Progress Report, the GPA implemented 260 projects to address marine debris under the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter.

Speakers from associations in the Philippines, South Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States will discuss ongoing efforts to address marine debris under the six focus areas of the Global Declaration. The session will provide information on actions by the plastics industry to address marine debris by, 1. Raising Awareness, 2. Supporting Research, 3. Promoting Best Policies, 4. Spreading Knowledge, 5. Enhancing Recovery, and 6. Preventing Pellet Losses.


Innovation for a Clean Ocean: R&D, unique programs and initiatives that are leading the way into the solutions phase of marine debris action

Session Chair: Rachael Miller, The Rozalia Project

This session will lead to inspiration and fresh ideas from organizations who are implementing unique solutions oriented marine debris initiatives for people working across the marine debris spectrum.

It is difficult to keep track of the myriad ideas, projects and innovations happening that are related to marine debris, much less have an opportunity to speak with the innovators. Currently, there are organizations who are pushing forward technology and techniques that have the potential to make a big impact when it comes to solution finding and implementation.

This session will give attendees an opportunity to hear from some of those innovators whose programs or ideas are viable and exciting, but not necessarily in the spotlight. This session will benefit the conference by highlighting high quality programs whose innovations could prove important to many of the conference attendees. These are more than inventions but also processes and techniques that can have measurable benefit to our oceans, lakes and rivers becoming free of marine debris.

Bringing Value to Marine Debris

Session Chair: Kahi Pacarro, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii

This session looks at ways in providing open source technology and creating value from marine debris to fund education and removal that reduces its occurrence.

For thousands of years the remnants of giant trees not growing locally have washed ashore in Hawaii. These giant logs represented a gift from the Gods and were crafted into glorious Sailing canoes that endured historical journeys. This marine debris that had drifted thousands of miles to land was reinvented into a treasured vessel revered by Hawaiian civilization. With the recent return from a three year journey around the world, the Sailing Canoe Hokulea reinvigorated the possibilities of taking detritus on the beach and creating value that transcends location and time in order inspire Malama Honua (Taking care of the Earth).

Debris from abroad continues to be delivered to the coastlines of Hawaii but it is no longer looked at as a gift from the Gods nor an opportunity to explore the outer world. But collaborations between Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Method Home, Parley for the Oceans, Envision Plastics, Matson, The Polynesian Voyaging Society, ByFusion are aimed at changing that narrative.

Method created the first large scale project of recycling Ocean Plastic aimed at inspiring industry to utilize more post-consumer plastics into their packaging. If they could create a bottle out of degraded Ocean Plastic, others could at least stop using virgin plastic. Parley for the Oceans took it further and brought a higher value to Ocean Plastic by collaborating with businesses to influence supply chains and products. Funds from sales of products incorporating Ocean Plastic go back to the locations where the debris was removed to further removal and education efforts. Ocean Plastic has value. Ocean Plastic has a new purpose. Ocean Plastic can be part of the Solution.

The sessions contained within will explore the techniques, logistics, lessons learned, and paths forward to taking what was once looked at as trash on the beach or ocean community and turning it into a valuable commodity. It will focus on local solutions that can be implemented at low cost in remote locations along with tackling large scale projects that bring mass value to the end product through incorporating Ocean Plastic into the manufacturing process.

This session will benefit the conference because it will contain proactive solutions and will provide an open source path forward that anyone can implement upon returning to their community. Moving debris from our coastlines into our landfills represents high risk of reintroduction into the Ocean while incineration gasifies the debris and introduces it back into the atmosphere. Upcycling plastic pollution creates goods needed locally and can create highly desired products that teach valuable lessons that reach a broader audience far from the Oceans. Sales of products fund local removal and education efforts while also inspiring better consumer and manufacturer behavior.

Most importantly we will share the ultimate focus how Ocean Plastic can help to reduce consumption, improve local cleanup capacity, and slow the tap of plastics flowing into the oceans through education. Currently working on creating a collaboration between Surfrider and Sustainable Coastlines to host a large scale cleanup in San Diego that takes the debris collected during the cleanup and turns it into a product(s) to be displayed at the conference.


Plastic waste: a new resource for the energy transition

Session Chairs: Kim Van Arkel, Race for Water Foundation; Fredric Sciacca, Race for Water Foundation

This session focuses on how to promote innovative long-term solutions capable of transforming plastic waste into energy in order to prevent plastics from leaking into the ocean.

Joint action at the global level is urgently needed to address the perils facing our oceans. Plastic waste to energy model can help tackling the issue of plastic pollution on land, and can directly improve the health and life of local communities who are often the first victims of this worldwide issue. The first part of the presentation will focus on following areas:

1) Assessment and outcomes: In 2015, Race for Water realized its first around the world Odyssey. Plastic pollution is everywhere. A grand-scale clean-up of the ocean is unrealistic, land-based solutions are key to an efficient fight against plastic pollution.

2) Plastic waste is the problem as well as the solution: How to incentivize local population to collect end-of-life plastics? The requirements in our search were to minimize the needs for plastic separation and cleaning, and to generate a local resource allowing to remunerate collectors. We rapidly moved toward energy recovery.

3) Presentation of the technology: Biogreen® by ETIA : It is an innovative, patented process for continuous thermochemical conversion of waste residue that allows high temperature pyrolysis treatment of various bulk materials including plastic waste. This innovative technological approach demonstrates that remote plastic waste can be an additional resource in energy transition.

4) Pilot projects towards scalability : Currently in production, the first machine will be delivered in the summer 2018 for a 6 months’ testing period to evaluate its performances and assess its environmental footprint.

This model is appropriate in remote and underequipped communities, to foster plastics waste collection at the earliest possible stage. Indeed, these communities suffer from lack of infrastructures to process the waste material. Simple equipment, allowing them to more easily sort, clean, grind and compress materials would also participate to upcycle plastics and improve the local waste management hierarchy. Combination of community sized solutions are key to overcome the challenges of waste management, which is exemplified in Palau. When communities face specific waste challenges such as derelict fiberglass vessel, complementary approaches including repurposing as alternative fuel are also helpful.

Ocean Friendly Restaurants: Reducing Plastic Pollution One Restaurant at a Time

Session Chairs: Stuart Coleman, Surfrider Foundation; Bill Hickman, Surfrider Foundation

This session is geared toward activists, restaurant owners, customers and all those who are  trying to reduce the pollution from single-use plastic foodware. 

For years, the Surfrider Foundation's extended network of chapters and youth clubs has worked with our non-profit partners to pass many bills to reduce the millions of tons of plastic pollution entering our oceans each year.  Along with passing bill to ban plastic bags, polystyrene foodware and other single-use plastics, we have also developed a new program called Ocean Friendly Restaurants to reduce plastic pollution at its source.  The restaurant industry generates vast amounts of plastic waste, including single-use plastic straws, utensils, plates, cups and many other plastic containers that often end up in our rivers, coastlines and oceans as marine debris. Trying to pass legislative bans can be a long and difficult process that often pits environmentalists against the plastics industry and other businesses.  By contrast, the OFR Program recognizes those restaurants that are voluntarily reducing plastic waste and inefficient uses of energy and water.  In order to be certified as an OFR, food establishments meet the four mandatory criteria (no foam or plastic bags, reusable cups/plates/utensils & proper recycling practices) and three of six other optional criteria. This program offers a win-win-win solution for restaurants, customers and those who are trying to protect the environment. The program was originally launched by Surfrider's San Diego Chapter and soon spread to other regions like Hawaii.  After launching the OFR program on Earth Day 2016, Hawaii's five chapters have certified more than 130 restaurants and received rave reviews from celebrity chefs and the media.  Based on the success in CA, HI and other areas, Surfrider will be taking this program national later this year. This kind of win-win-win scenario could be a model for environmental advocates and everyday customers to work with the private sector to reduce not only plastic waste but also their costs.

See Other Tracks: Monitoring and Citizen Science · Research and Microplastic/Microfibers · Prevention · Education and Communication · Implementing Effective Law Regulations, and Policy · Removal · Single-Use Product Policies, Regulations and Laws · Derelict Fishing Gear ·Innovative Case Studies from Around the World