Washington, D.C. – At a beach cleanup held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s Summit of Ministers meeting in Valparaiso, Chile yesterday, Ocean Conservancy and the Government of Chile launched a formal partnership to increase efforts to combat ocean plastic pollution among the 21 member economies of APEC. The event was attended by Chilean government officials, representatives of Ocean Conservancy, senior officials representing the 21 APEC economies and local schoolchildren.
“We are so grateful for Chile’s leadership on this issue and are thrilled to formally partner with Chile this year to make sure ocean plastic is on the APEC agenda,” said Ocean Conservancy Plastics Initiative Director Chever Voltmer, who provided remarks at the cleanup event. “At the heart of it, the ocean plastic crisis is an economic one, and we need to address the financing and policy mechanisms at the root of the problem. This partnership will allow us to do just that, by bringing together some of the economies most impacted by plastic pollution.”
Every year, millions of tons of trash—including an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste—flows into the ocean, impacting more than 800 species of marine life and accumulating everywhere from Arctic Sea ice to the deepest ocean trenches. Plastics have been shown to alter fish feeding and reproductive behaviors, transport invasive species, and carry diseases that kill coral reefs, among other effects.
For more than 30 years, Ocean Conservancy has mobilized millions of volunteers to remove some 136 million kgs of trash from beaches and waterways worldwide through its annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). In Chile alone, thanks to the work of ICC coordinator DIRECTEMAR and more than 14,000 volunteers in Chile, approximately 171,000 kgs of trash were prevented from entering the ocean in 2018.
“We gathered at this beach cleanup at Caleta Portales to support the prevention of marine debris, the protection of our ocean, and to raise environmental awareness through this joint collaboration,” indicated Capitán de Navio LT Oscar Ortiz Cisternas from DIRECTEMAR.
Cleanups are only one of a wide range of actions needed to address the ocean plastic crisis. Ocean Conservancy founded the Trash Free Seas Alliance® in 2012 to bring together scientists, conservationists and the private sector to push for greater investment in trash collection systems around the world. Ocean Conservancy was proud to announce with partners last year the launch and $110 million capitalization of Circulate Capital, the world’s first catalytic investment fund dedicated to keeping trash out of the ocean.
Chile is an international leader in ocean conservation and the sustainable use of its resources. The government hosted the Our Ocean conference in 2015, resulting in important commitments and concrete actions to protect the ocean and its resources. In 2016 it enacted a framework law on waste management, extended producer responsibility (EPR), and recycling promotion; and in 2018 passed a law banning single-use plastic bags—one of the most dangerous forms of marine debris and a top-ten most-collected item during the ICC. In December Chile will also host COP25, the annual conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, slated to be a “blue COP” focusing on the nexus between the ocean and climate.
About Ocean Conservancy
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.