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Concerned by plastic pollution, we all have a role to play

For the past European Waste Reduction, Surfrider Europe addressed several ‘false beliefs’ that are being circulated as solutions to ocean plastic pollution. The main message of the campaign was to explain that advancing technologies alone will not solve the plastic crisis. There is far too much plastic produced in the world and we must reduce its pollution at the source. All stakeholders in our society have a role to play in responding to the urgency of plastic pollution and preserving the ocean from this scourge  

Industrialists must assume their responsibility and propose real alternatives  

Ecology must not be a marketing argument to attract consumers and sell more products. It must be an integral part of companies’ values in order to truly limit their impact on the environment. Manufacturers can act on many levels to limit plastic pollution: reconsider the amount of plastic used during product design, production and distribution, replace single-use plastic products with reusable and sustainable alternatives, and end excessive single-use plastic packaging.  

Manufacturers must assume responsibility in plastic pollution by changing their production model, innovating, and offering citizens more eco-friendly products.

By simplifying the complex issue of ocean plastic pollution with technology ‘solutions’, we are exhausting valuable resources and energy and diverting attention away from the real problem at hand.  

Legislation and international institutions must play a part  

To drive lasting change, legislation must construct the necessary legal framework for the ecological transition. National and international governments must pass binding measures that commensurate with the ecological emergency in order to force companies to change business models in support of a circular economy. 

Governments must also ensure this ecological transition by integrating waste reduction into all public policies and set an example by removing single-use plastic from public administrations and events.  

Without these measures, reduction-based practices will rely on the goodwill of companies and on citizens with enough knowledge to switch to more environmentally respectful lifestyles such as “zero waste”.   

The Ocean is our main source of oxygen and an invaluable source of food for one third of the world’s population, but without a change in the whole of society, we risk destroying it forever. Without immediate change, the ocean will have more plastic than fish in 30 years. 

 As a citizen    

 We have the opportunity to influence industrialists and politicians through our votes, our voices and by the way we consume.   

For example, we can choose to consume local goods and purchase reusable products. We can buy in bulk to limit packaging, check product information for eco-certifications, and refuse using single-use plastics.   

We all have a role to play in solving the major problem of our century: plastic pollution. Many citizens are doing their part every day to fight this scourge, but it is now the turn of all industrialists and politicians to shoulder their share of responsibility and propose viable and rapid alternatives to tackle this ever-increasing pollution.