The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates there are 150 million metric tonnes of plastic waste in the sea which is disrupting marine life. But what is our role in curbing plastic pollution?
A further 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will end up in the ocean every year if the problem is not addressed effectively.
WWF-Malaysia Sustainable Markets Programme Corporate Engagement manager Jazlyn Lee said everyone, from industry players to government agencies and consumers, has a role to play in dealing with plastic pollution.
She said consumers were at the forefront of the movement to reduce single-use plastic as well as insisting companies improve the design of their products and packaging.”As a consumer, we can also try and reach out to policymakers for change, besides producers and companies. If there is no demand, companies and industry players will definitely have to do something to meet consumer requirements, ” Lee said on the sidelines of the Sustainable Brands Kuala Lumpur 2019 (SB19KL) conference.
She said reducing plastic production was also not just the responsibility of producers, but consumer brands too and brand companies should start investing in research and development (R&D) to design better packaging.
“Asia is drowning in plastic waste, ” said Thammasat University’s School of Global Studies lecturer Chris Oestereich at the SB19KL.
He cited “Our World in Data” which suggested Asia dominates when it comes to river plastic input to the ocean – Asia represented 86% of the global total, ahead of Africa at 7.8%, South America at 4.8%.
Central and North America, Europe and the Australia-Pacific region collectively accounted for just over 1% of the world total, he said. Although high-income countries generate more plastic waste per person, they have effective waste management systems, he said.
He added Asia consisted of many middle and low-income countries with poor waste management and this was the main source of global ocean plastic pollution.