On June 23, 2020, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) together with Food Industry Asia (FIA) announced the publication of a regional survey regarding plastic waste, conducted with 2,000 consumers and 400 food and beverage companies across South-East Asia. The survey targeted five countries estimated to be within the top ten sources of marine plastic debris and found a “significant disconnect between expectation and action on reducing plastic waste.” Specifically, the survey reveals that:
- While consumers show concern about plastic waste (91%), less than half of them responded that they are less likely to buy a product from non-recycled material.
- Consumers’ interest in recycling is increasing. 54% responded that they already recycle their plastic waste, and 38% are interested in doing so within the next 18 months.
- Businesses are concerned about plastic waste (82%), but less than half report that their current efforts are enough to manage the problem.
- Targets have been set by businesses on plastic waste, but these “need strengthening.” 80% of businesses report having set targets, but less than one third communicate them externally and only 59% have set deadlines for achieving them.
- Close to half of the businesses surveyed are part of wider industry collaborations to address plastic waste.
- Consumers and businesses would like to see more action by governments, including “mandating waste segregation, enhancing collection systems, ensuring consistent labelling on product recycling, and imposing littering fines and charges.”
On June 25, 2020, the European Commission (EC) announced that it has adopted a report on its Martine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) finding that “persistent challenges remain” for marine protection including plastic litter and other types of pollution. This was further echoed by a separate report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) on ‘marine messages.’ Both reports are described as offering a mixed review of the status of marine protection within the EU. While EU legislation has been seen to reduce some contaminant levels, there has been a measured increase of plastics and plastic chemical residues in most marine species examined. “We still have a chance to restore our marine ecosystems if we act decisively and coherently and strike a sustainable balance between and our impact on the marine environment,” said EEA’s Executive Director, Hans Bruyninckx.
UNEP (June 23, 2020). “Report: Consumers and business concerned about plastic waste but expect governments to do more.”
EC (June 25, 2020). “More protection for our seas and oceans is needed, report finds.”
EEA (June 25, 2020). “Europe’s seas face uncertain future if urgent, coherent action not taken.”
SEA Circular (June 23, 2020). “Perceptions on plastic waste.” (pdf)
EEA (June 25, 2020). “Marine Messages II.” (pdf)