Trapped by plastic

Trapped by plastic

(#26 of our Together-Ensemble series)

‘Trapped by Plastic’ is a short documentary film about award-winning Photographer Mandy Barker, whose work highlights the devastating and far-reaching impact of marine plastic pollution.  

This very short film provided the why for this session, and I really encourage you to watch it: Trapped by Plastic – First Move Productions.

Extremely powerful, in particular we can learn that the situation, instead of improving with our actions and decisions, continues to worsen. There is no other way than to address this topic at global level, through a true collaborative approach between governments and civil society.

So, why don’t we do it? That’s a key question, when we look at the huge harm done on our planet and its species. This session took place on 29 April 2021.

OPENING CONVERSATION

Anny Tubbs, Director and Producer of documentary films, including “trapped by plastic”

Catherine Chabaud, a French journalist and politician of the Democratic Movement who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament in 2019

Lowri Evans, former DG GROW and DG MARE, and member of the EU Mission Board for healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters.

You can watch the webinar part here. Please note that this is internal “raw” material, not originally intended for external publication, but knowing the difficult context and associated challenges, we have decided to make it available to all. It is offered by the European Commission with a view to encourage everyone to take similar initiatives to encourage a benevolent direction. (the video will be added soon).

In this session of ‘Together-Ensemble’, we addressed waste management and in particular the issue with plastic.

MAIN RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE WORKSHOP

This talk inspired about 120 people from the EU institutions (among the 190 registered) to identify solutions to some current complex problems.

  • Global collaboration is a must ! Engage people better on local/regional/global levels. European Union is a good place to start international cooperation because we have the technology and resources to initiate it. All countries must join forces to remove the trillions of plastic that exist in the oceans. The solutions to be searched will be global, not only at the level of Europe. Multi-country collaboration, as the oceans are all connected! Doing something in Europe, does not help China and India. Directives and decisions take too many time to enter into force – too many exceptional rules for different countries. It needs to be global!
  • Provide incentives: Less plastic/waste is a big lifestyle/cultural change. People need incentives to make this change. Politicians and players in economy should be made financially attracted to solution at all levels (producing alternatives, prevention, cleaning, recycling of plastic).
  • Ocean is our home. We have to take responsibility. Consumers also have a responsibility in their choice. At least for our health and the health of the other species that we are risking. Millions of humans still do not understand that the waste in the oceans impacts them is short and long run. Many people still do not make connections between ocean and land issues / environment and human issues. We need to better disseminate this information. We must stop treating our rivers and oceans like a rubbish. The ocean starts at your door steps. Get a behavioural change and bring on political change, track our own waste from our garbage to the end point. We should approach the problem from all angles: All points are valid on producing less plastic, preventing them to reach the waters and to remove them, too.
  • Stop plastics for good. Too much lobbyists that are influencing politicians to forbid the use of (short-term) plastics. Ideally, concrete action is taken to reduce most plastic use in take away chains, street food, supermarkets, fast food chains, etc. not merely plastic bags, straws, cups, etc.Still a lot to be done, if one subscribes to a magazine, it arrives in a plastic bag. Public authorities should forbid plastic which are not absolutely needed and encourage people to use own containers instead of single-use containers.. 20 years ago it seemed impossible not to get a bag in the shops and now it is normal. It would be the same.
  • Do not put the main responsibility of recycling on the individuals – Big corporations make the profit, and shift the responsibility of the recycling of their bottles for example to the individuals. Recycling does not mean that the plastic disappears, all the plastic ever produces in the world is still here and it is going to be here for hundreds of years. Labelling recyclability. Push back the recycling to the producing companies! They make the profit but they take no responsibility for the environment. Individuals can push the political change, but the push towards individuals to be responsible for all the cleaning should be distributed between corporations and users.
  • Equip washing machine with microplastic filters – like cars are obliged to have gas filters.
  • Education is key to raise awareness and make the link between our waste and its impact on our “home” be it sea or land. To change the world you must first change yourself. Education from the first school level.
  • Stricter regulations (i.e. increasing EU guarantee from 2 to 5 years -> less waste)
  • Think the most upstream solutions possibly. Do not wait for the waste to end in the oceans,
  • Other ideas: Adopt a zero waste lifestyle/consume less. Consumers could leave their packages in the stores to force producers reduce the plastic packages. Stop drinking bottled water. Use water filtration systems instead (but not with disposable plastic filters!). Go back to before 1950s pure wool, pure cotton, and more locally produced food etc. then forbid totally the production of non-reusable plastics. Get into second hand buying of clothes, furniture etc. Boycott plastic packaging (ex. buy shampoo in bars). Avoid synthetic fibres for clothes or wash using a Guppy friend bag. wrapping clothes in bag during washing that prevents fibres escaping. Support business models that allow you to rent appliances etc. that you use infrequently. Buy second hand and reuse as much as possible. Ask for deposits quite high for the plastic and glass bottles so that people take them back in a bigger quantity.

Related links:

EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters | European Commission (europa.eu)

And soon, you will be able to hear from our session on “Unmanageable expectations”.

5 responses to “Trapped by plastic”

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