There will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, moot told

Updated November 15, 2018

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Plastic waste that ends up in the ocean every year could be expected to double by 2025 and there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, experts say. ─ Wikimedia Commons
Plastic waste that ends up in the ocean every year could be expected to double by 2025 and there may be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, experts say. ─ Wikimedia Commons

JAMSHORO: Experts at a moot described mismanagement of plastic waste as the main hindrance to recycling and the largest cause of pollution of rivers and oceans in the world.

The plastic waste that ended up in the ocean every year could be expected to double by 2025 and there would be more plastic therein than fish by 2050, they said.

They said this while speaking to participants of a three-day 5th International Conference on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development-2018 (EESD-2018) held at the auditorium of US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W) of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro here on Wednesday, organised by the Energy Environmental Engineering Research Group (EEERG).

“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” said Ms Arvea Marieni, consultant of GCM Consulting, Germany, as keynote speaker.

She said that globally mandatory initiatives towards a circular economy were necessary to establish common rules-cum-sanctions for effective management and recycling of plastic waste, and promote and support development and use of alternative biodegradable and compostable plastics.

She said Coca Cola, the biggest producer of plastic bottles in the world, was committed to “collect and recycle the equivalent of” 100 per cent of its packaging by 2030 while other multinational companies like PepesiCo, Amcor, Unilever had pledged to convert to 100pc reusable recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. Tetra Pak, the largest food packaging company, set the goal to recycle (mixed layer products) equivalent to minimum 90 billion packages.

“Fossil-based plastics are not biodegrad­able and stay in the environment for 450, up to 1,000 years. The plastic waste that ends up in the ocean every year is expected to double by 2025 and there would be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Some 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans annually from coastal regions. Plastics are manufactured all over the world, but 50pc come from China and Asia,” she said.

She said that a plastic recycling supply chain required a collection of plastic waste, including trays, tubs, pots, films and wrappers.

“Circular economy is an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a useful tool to assess the potential social, economic and environ­mental consequences of using different materials,” she concluded.

World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) regional manager Dr Babar Khan said that Pakistan stood at the seventh number amongst top 10 water insecure countries, while 18 million people lacked access to clean drinking water.

Dr Naveed Arshad, belonging to Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), said the country was facing multiple challenges, adding that through evidence-based research, a roadmap could be presented to introduce electric vehicles and ameliorate sectoral challenges in the country.

The head of College of Engineering and Science, Victoria University Australia, Prof Dr Akhtar Kalam, said if there was going to be World War III, it would be due to environment in general including three reasons — water, food and energy. Pakistan was facing shortage of all of them.

MUET Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Aslam Uqaili thanked the guests. Among others, Dr Chang Hee Lee of Myongji University South Korea, USPCAS-W technical adviser from the US Dr Jeffrey Layton Ullman and Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company general manager (technical) Faisal Iqbal Siddiqui also spoke.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018