Reduce: Keeping plastic from entering the oceans

Keeping plastic from entering the oceans

To date, no procedures have been developed to eliminate plastics from the oceans without risking new harm to marine wildlife. Rethinking our attitude towards plastic is still the most effective solution. Therefore OceanCare engages in environmental education to increase people’s awareness about the impact of their everyday decisions. We encourage people not to use disposable plastic. At an international level, we campaign for a ban on particularly noxious plastics and on the use of microplastic in cosmetics.

Banning microplastics

The cosmetics industry is the main originator of primary microplastic input into the oceans. Working in international fora, OceanCare strives to achieve a global ban on microplastics in cosmetic products. Negotiating with the industry, OceanCare urges companies to voluntarily shift from microplastic to environmentally safe alternatives. In Switzerland, OceanCare is striving for a national embargo on cosmetics that contain microplastics. Legal bills in the Netherlands and in New York, USA, serve as examples to follow.

Classifying and properly disposing plastics

Classifying plastics according to their degree of harmfulness is also urgently needed. Plastic producers should be obliged to disclose their ingredients and mixtures. The most hazardous substances should be banned internationally. Plastic waste disposal, too, requires worldwide regulation. OceanCare works towards these aims in all relevant fora of the United Nations And, since 2015, OceanCare has been a partner organisation of the UN’s Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML).

Environmental education: We need to change our attitudes

In 2015, OceanCare partnered with a scientific illustrator to produce an animated video in German, English and Spanish to educate the general public about the consequences of plastic waste in the oceans as well as offering tips for people’s personal consumer choices. The video has been spread widely on the internet and is being shown during flights of Edelweiss Air. Versions in Italian, French and Portuguese are planned. All language versions are spread widely via social media and by our international partners.

OceanCare provides journalists in German-speaking countries with information and graphics on the plastic waste issue. We also run a successful filler ad campaign. These campaign designs encourage people to rethink plastic use and are being published for free by media in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. OceanCare also distributes postcards with these designs.

By giving lectures in schools and auditoriums both domestically and abroad, OceanCare wants to create awareness among the young for the fascinating ocean life and for the need to act responsibly in dealing with the colourful world of plastics. Information materials such as flyers, factsheets and infographics are designed to assist teachers in integrating the plastic issue into school education.

OceanCare also supports reasonable alternatives to plastics. We have a successful cooperation with a Swiss start-up marketing fruit and vegetable bags to replace the conventional thin plastic bags. The ‘veggiebag’ has a lifespan of about ten years of frequent use and can replace at least 1,000 plastic bags. OceanCare also cooperates with reCIRCLE, a company providing returnable tableware to take-away restaurants in Switzerland.

Starting with 1st of January, 2017, OceanCare cooperates with wholesale and retail company Gebr. Heinemann, who supply duty free shops at 78 airports in 28 countries. The cooperation aims at reducing the number of plastic bags, promoting awareness and introducing reusable bags. Plastic bags at the 14 shops in Germany and Austria will be charged with 30 cents each, which should result in a measurable reduction in the number of plastic bags by the hundreds of thousands every year.

Irrespective of the number of plastic bags sold, Gebr. Heinemann is supporting our projects to reduce marine plastic littering, to remove plastic waste, and to rescue animals.