In recent years, an increasing number of studies and reports have advanced the global understanding of the challenge posed by ocean plastic pollution. But most leaders across industry, government, and civil society have noted a critical gap: an evidence-based roadmap to describe the pathways available and to foster convergent action.
As a step towards building that roadmap, The Pew Charitable Trusts partnered with SYSTEMIQ to build on previous research and create this first-of-its-kind model of the global plastics system, with results suggesting that there is an evidence-based, comprehensive, integrated, and economically attractive pathway to greatly reduce plastic pollution entering our ocean. The findings of our analysis were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science on 23 July 2020.
The speed at which ocean plastic pollution has climbed up the public agenda has been surprising. Yet, even as the world starts to comprehend the enormity of the challenge, major actors disagree on the solution. In preparing “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A Comprehensive Assessment of Pathways Towards Stopping Ocean Plastic Pollution,” we consulted an extensive group of stakeholders from academia, industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations, who without exception shared the concern and demonstrated willingness to act—but often offered contradictory solutions.
We then developed perhaps the most comprehensive plastic system modelling tool to create a global analysis that evaluates various strategies to reduce ocean plastic flows and quantifies the associated economic, environmental, and social implications of each pathway. The ultimate aim of this work is to help guide policymakers, industry executives, investors, and civil society leaders through highly contested, often data-poor, and complex terrain. Our analysis includes several key findings that could help define changes to the global system that are necessary to stop plastic pollution from flowing into the ocean.
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