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A Voice for our Ocean

Ocean Conservancy Report Shows Recycled Content Standards and Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes Can Bridge Plastic Collection Financing Gap

New “Plastics Policy Playbook” Offers Policy Solutions to Fund Waste Collection and Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ocean Conservancy, in partnership with the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, today released its new “Plastics Policy Playbook: Strategies for a Plastic-Free Ocean.” Based on desk-side research, in-country workshops and robust financial modeling, the report is an in-depth guide to some of the most impactful public- and private-sector interventions available to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution in parts of the world most affected by the crisis.

“We are seeing unprecedented interest from government and business leaders alike in moving to a circular economy and addressing ocean plastic pollution; but with so many interventions needed – from bans to taxes to product redesign and everything in between – execution remains a challenge,” said Ocean Conservancy CEO Janis Searles Jones. “It is our hope that this document, rooted in data and research, will serve as a policy playbook for a key part of the systemic solution to ocean plastic.”

The new “Plastics Policy Playbook” builds on our growing understanding of the economics of plastic waste collection. In 2015, scientists estimated for the first time that 8 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean every year due to a lack of waste collection infrastructure. Five countries– China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – are particularly impacted.

This report analyses how to finance plastic waste collection in the region so that plastic never ends up in the ocean. Key findings include:

  • In the five target countries, there is a net financing gap for plastic waste collection of between US $28 – $40 per ton.
  • To reduce the financing gap and make sure that all waste is collected, extended producer responsibility (often referred to as EPR), implemented through Packaging Material Fees – where producers pay fees depending on the amount of packaging material put on the market or their plastic recycling/recovery targets – can have the highest potential in reducing this gap, by up to 75%.
  • Increasing demand for recycled plastic through recycled content standards has a potential to reduce the existing collection financing gap by up to 34%.
  • Bans on problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics (specifically, plastic grocery bags, plastic straws and stirrers, plastic cups and lids, plastic cutlery, foam food containers, oxo-biodegradable plastic materials, PVC packaging, and primary microplastics) can improve collection by reducing the contamination of post-consumer waste streams.

“The findings reinforce what we’ve long suspected, which is that we need a suite of solutions to address the problem of ocean plastic, and everyone has a role to play,” said Chever Voltmer, plastics initiatives director at Ocean Conservancy. “The good news – as we’ve seen first-hand in developing this report with key partners from the Trash Free Seas Alliance – is that we are seeing both governments and the private sector ready and willing to do their part.”

Ocean Conservancy will launch the playbook on stage at an official side event of the Our Ocean Conference in Oslo, Norway, on October 23.


About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

About the Trash Free Seas Alliance®

Launched by Ocean Conservancy in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance® brings together thought leaders from industry, conservation and academia to create a forum for pragmatic, real-world collaboration focused on the measurable reduction of ocean trash. Alliance members commit to shared exploration of long-term strategies that improve ocean health by reducing or eliminating ocean trash. Visit the Trash Free Seas Alliance® webpage for more information.

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Trash Free Seas

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