Corporate action to tackle the mounting problem of ocean plastics is on the rise with new commitments and cross-industry initiatives cropping up regularly. Kimberly-Clark, The Coca-Cola Company and The Dow Chemical Company are the latest to double down on their efforts to drive impact, joining Closed Loop Partners’ Closed Loop Ocean initiative, which seeks to develop a new funding mechanism to prevent plastic from leaking into the world’s oceans. Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) has also signed onto the initiative, becoming the first intergovernmental organization to participate in Closed Loop Ocean’s efforts.
Introduced at the Our Ocean 2017 conference in Malta in October, Closed Loop Ocean is designed to identify, develop and facilitate investments in waste management and recycling solutions in Southeast Asia, with a focus on improving collection, sorting and recycling markets.
Research indicates that nearly half of the plastic that flows into the world’s oceans each year — an estimated 8 million metric tons — escapes from waste streams in just five fast-growing economies in Asia. The extent of plastic pollution in Indonesia, one of the five targeted countries where around 130,000 tons of plastic and solid waste are produced every day, was recently highlighted in a short video posted on YouTube by British diver Rich Horner. The video, which was filmed at Manta Point, a mere 20 km away from Bali, shows a submerged Horner surrounded by innumerable plastic bags, bottles, cups, sachets, straws and other items, which appear to drastically outnumber the fish and other marine life in the area.
“Solving the problem of ocean-bound plastics will require significant investment and partnership from brands and supply chain leaders. Partnership with our coalition of companies who have operations in these markets and with PEMSEA, a regional intergovernmental body with local knowledge and experience in SE Asia will help us bring in additional investors, understand the local market and supply chain dynamics and develop an investment strategy that unlocks the key bottlenecks holding back the recycling system in SE Asia and India,” said Rob Kaplan, Managing Director of Closed Loop Partners.
Closed Loop Ocean isn’t the first collaborative initiative to harness market-based solutions to drive change. Environmental NGO Lonely Whale and Dell teamed up late last year to launch the first-ever commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics supply chain called NextWave. Members of the initiative, which include General Mills, Interface, Herman Miller and the New Materials Institute, are working together to develop a sustainable model that reduces ocean-bound plastic at scale, while creating economic and social benefits for multiple stakeholders.