Towards Plastic-Free Waves

Saving the ocean is extremely important because a healthy ocean can provide us with six times more food, 40 times more renewable energy, and help millions of poor people out of poverty. A new report from Norad shows that Norwegian aid is yielding results in the fight against marine litter and plastic pollution.

Better recycling and waste management are crucial

Two billion people worldwide lack waste management systems. In addition to reducing the production and use of plastic, access to waste collection and management is crucial to stop plastic before it reaches the ocean. In Indonesia, they have created a plan to reduce marine waste by 70 percent by 2025. One of the projects in the report, led by Avfall Norge, has established a sustainable waste system in Banyuwangi, Indonesia, with the goal of making it a litter-free tourist destination by 2040. Another project in Indonesia, the Stop Waste Go Circular project, has contributed to waste management for 400,000 people, provided over 300 jobs, and collected more than 60,000 tons of waste.

Volunteers are important

The report highlights the importance of including volunteer waste pickers in the solutions. Many have seen the pictures of Afroz Shah, who started the large cleanup projects of Mumbai's beaches, where he involved volunteers to clean up the entire beach. His commitment has resulted in the Afroz Shah Foundation in India, which has received assistance from Norway to train people in several communities in proper waste management. This has resulted in over 400 tons of plastic being recycled instead of polluting the beaches and the ocean.

Additionally, 37 cities in India are receiving assistance through the Centre for Science and Environment to develop regulations for source separation, collection fees, and fines for non-compliance. This will contribute to their ability to handle waste better in the future.

Interpol combats illegal waste trade across borders

Norway also provided assistance to Interpol, which coordinated international operations against waste traffickers through its Marine Pollution Enforcement project. Interpol has through this revealed over 10,000 crimes related to marine litter and conducted over 70,000 inspections.

In addition, training through the UN organization UNODC has enabled Thai customs authorities to detect and return a shipment of 130 tons of hazardous waste from Australia imported under the guise of paper waste. This set a precedent for prosecution.

Waste from shipping and fishing

A lot of marine litter comes from shipping, tourism, and fishing. Most notably are nets and other fishing gear that go astray, entangling fish and other marine life, leading to their death.

The GloLitter project is developed to prevent such waste in the fisheries and shipping sectors in 30 partner countries. One of the countries is Costa Rica. There, the project contributed to the development of a national action plan against marine litter, leading to increased awareness, capacity building, and a more engaged private sector to reduce sea-based sources of marine litter.

Circular solutions and innovation

A larger project led by SINTEF piloted the use of non-recyclable plastic waste as fuel in the cement industry in China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam. The technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions while increasing the capacity to handle plastic waste that cannot be recycled. This innovative solution prevented at least 100,000 tons of plastic from polluting the environment and indirectly reduced CO2 emissions by avoiding the establishment of new landfills and incineration plants.

The report also shows that Norwegian aid stimulates innovation by supporting incubators and accelerators for start-ups in plastic recycling and waste management. A first-loss facility with banks and financial institutions has also been set up in Sub-Saharan Africa, so that entrepreneurs and small businesses have better access to credit.

A lot of work remains, but the report shows that Norway's aid in this area has yielded tangible results in the fight against the global plastic pollution crisis through sustainable waste management, political reforms, private sector engagement, and innovation.

Read the report here.


Published 07.06.2024
Last updated 07.06.2024