An estimated 15% to 40% of littered or dumped plastic ends up in the ocean every year, and citizens of the world are playing their parts to reduce that number. In fact, the UN has just declared a war on ocean plastic pollution.
The United Nations (UN) announced at the 2017 Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali at the end of February that they were officially declaring a war on plastic and starting the Clean Seas Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to eliminate major sources of plastic pollution, which include single-use plastics and even microplastics that are often used in cosmetics.
Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, explained that humans have sat idly by contributing to this issue for too long.
“Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables … the problem has gotten worse. It must stop,” he said in a public statement.
The UN announcement came shortly after researchers got up-close and personal with “extraordinary” levels of plastic and toxic pollution in one place that was previously thought to be untouchable: the 10km deep Mariana Trench.
Researchers used a remotely piloted submarine to take footage and marine life samples from the sea floor, and what they found was shocking. Small crustaceans from the trench floor were contaminated with upwards of 50 times the amount of toxic chemicals than their close relatives living in China’s heavily polluted rivers.
Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in the UK, who led the research team, explained that the Mariana Trench isn’t as untouched by humanity as we would like to think.
“The fact that we found such extraordinary levels of these pollutants really brings home the long-term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.
The UN’s Clean Seas initiative is a welcome relief to many ocean advocates, and other organizations around the world are doing their part to clean up our oceans. Almost 47% of Americans haven’t updated their home decor in the last five years, but many companies haven’t updated their sustainability initiatives for longer than that.
But Dell is stepping up to the plate for ocean health. In fact, the company has pledged to start using recovered ocean plastic to make their laptop and computer packaging. The company has included post-consumer plastic in their packaging since 2008, but this pilot program marks a new era for the computer technology company.
Kevin Brown, chief supply chain officer at Dell, said that this is “the first time my 10-year-old daughter has gotten excited about what I do.”
It would seem others are excited about this as well, as the company has received immense support for their new endeavor.
Both the Clean Seas Campaign and Dell have published web pages detailing the objectives and action items of their campaigns.