Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Ending the flow of trash at the source

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Current efforts to eliminate ocean trash are not enough.

Ocean Conservancy has mobilized millions of people around the world to remove trash from our ocean and waterways. But removal is just one part of the solution. We must also prevent trash from reaching our waterways and the ocean in the first place, which is why in 2012 Ocean Conservancy launched the Trash Free Seas Alliance® (TFSA). TFSA unites industry, science and conservation leaders who share a common goal for a healthy ocean free of trash, and plastic pollution.

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Ocean plastic pollution is a massive problem on a global scale.

The Trash Free Seas Alliance® is the oldest forum of its kind focused on innovative and pragmatic solutions to rid the ocean of plastic pollution and other forms of marine debris. Through the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, corporate members have collectively committed millions of dollars for research on ways to improve waste collection and recycling in parts of the world most impacted by ocean plastic pollution. Conservation members provide insights via research, policy recommendations and collaboration across individual initiatives. Many of the members also support Circulate Capital and The Circulate Initiative, the investment management firms created in partnership with Ocean Conservancy and Closed Loop Partners dedicated to financing companies, projects and infrastructure to prevent ocean plastic pollution.

TFSA members have also pledged to eliminate or replace up to half a million tons of virgin plastic from products and packaging each year. See current TFSA members.

The goal: real-world collaboration to stop the flow of plastics into the ocean.
You can help.

20210324 TFSA Members

Join Ocean Conservancy and become a Trash Free Seas Alliance Member.

Current Signature Initiative

ASPPIRe: Advancing Solutions to Plastic Pollution through Inclusive Recycling

In many parts of the world most impacted by plastic pollution, local governments don’t have the resources to collect and manage all the waste and plastic generated. It is estimated that 2 billion people do not have access to organized waste collection services, and that number is expected to climb to 4 billion people by 2040. Unfortunately, that means vast amounts of uncollected plastic and other types of pollution wash into sewers and through waterways into the ocean.

At the same time, informal waste collectors, or waste pickers, in many of these same places earn their living by collecting discarded plastic products—mostly “high-value” items like bottles—and selling them to recycling facilities. It is not uncommon for waste pickers to have no formal identification, and to lack access to health services, and education; their income levels are often unstable and working conditions can be unsafe. And yet, waste pickers are providing a vital service and should be recognized for their critical contributions to waste management, and recycling in particular.

How We Can Help:

Ocean Conservancy released a preliminary report last year that identified opportunities to improve the health, safety, and income of informal waste collectors in parts of the world most impacted by plastic pollution, while helping to keep plastics out of waterways and eventually the ocean.

The report recommended three areas for action:

  • Provide the informal sector workforce with information, skills, technology and equipment through existing support organizations;
  • Expand informal sector processing capacity by financing equipment; and
  • Stabilize the market for low-value plastics at a level that will encourage collection and maximize income to provide meaningful economic gains for workers.

In keeping with its tradition of cutting-edge leadership, the Trash Free Seas Alliance decided to put the recommendations into action and created its next Signature Initiative: ASPPIRe (Advancing Solutions to Plastic Pollution through Inclusive Recycling). ASPPIRe will pilot new models in Vietnam and Colombia through an innovative partnership with iWrc, an experienced global organization leading efforts to bolster working conditions for informal waste sector workers, while also developing end-markets for low-value plastics like plastic bags and films. iWrc will coordinate with two in-country partnersin Colombia, the organization is CEMPRE and in Vietnam, the selected organization is awaiting official government approval. Both in-country partners are women-led organizations that have been working with informal sector waste collectors for years in their regions and have the trust of local informal sector cooperatives.

The work will begin in spring 2021.

Previous Signature Initiatives

Plastics Policy Playbook (2019)

PlasticsPlaybook_TFS_ThumbnailInvesting in waste management is critical; however, additional measures will be needed. The Plastics Policy Playbook identified four key themes to improve the economics of collection across the value chain:

  • Financing the collection via Extended Producer Responsibility measures;
  • Reducing the production and use of problematic single-use plastics;
  • Designing for circularity, and
  • Increasing the demand for post-consumer plastics.

The Playbook also identified engagement and inclusion of the informal sector as one of the key principles for success.

In 2020, the Trash Free Seas Alliance will work with its members and Steering Committee to design its next Signature Initiative aimed at initiatives focused on the inclusion of the informal sector.

Circulate Capital (2018)

CirculateCapital_TFS_ThumbnailArmed with the knowledge of the financing gap for waste management, Ocean Conservancy and the Trash Free Seas Alliance worked to design and launch Circulate Capital. This collective effort aims to:

  • Build an investment pool and funding mechanism;
  • Advocate governments to prioritize waste management; and
  • Test business models in high leakage cities.
The Next Wave: Investment Strategies for Plastic Free Seas (2017)

TheNextWave_TFS_ThumbnailThis report helped us understand how to systematically break down the barriers to effective waste management that will ultimately stem the flow of plastic waste into the ocean. It highlighted that most waste management systems operate at a net cost and that to improve waste collection the economics of these systems will need to change.

Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean (2015)

StemmingTheTide_TFS_ThumbnailThis report helped us understand how and why plastic waste is leaking into the ocean and evaluate potential prevention approaches. It found that 75% of plastic entering the ocean was never collected to begin with and that low-value plastics were most likely to enter the ocean.

TFSA Technical Advisors

Dr. Kara Lavender Law

TFSATechnicalAdvisors_Kara_Lavendar LawDr. Kara Lavender Law is a Research Professor of Oceanography at Sea Education Association (SEA; Woods Hole, Massachussetts), studying the sources, distribution, transformation and fate of plastic debris in the ocean. Trained as a physical oceanographer, Dr. Law has more than 12 months of sea time on oceanographic and sailing research vessels, including in the eastern North Pacific and western North Atlantic Oceans where plastic debris accumulates in regions dubbed, “garbage patches”.  Dr. Law’s current research interests focus on the sources of plastic to the marine environment, understanding how ocean physics determines the distribution of plastic and other marine debris, and the degradation and ultimate fate of different plastic materials in the ocean.  She is co-chair of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Working Group Floating Litter and its Oceanic TranSport Analysis and Modelling (FLOTSAM), and serves as the co-principal investigator of the Marine Debris Working Group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Dr. Law holds a PhD in physical oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a BS in mathematics from Duke University.

Dr. Ramani Narayan

TFSATechnicalAdvisors_DrRamaniNarayanDr. Ramani Narayan, is a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science. He has 200+ refereed publications in leading journals, 32 issued patents and has edited three books in the area of environmentally responsible bio-based materials. He is the founding Chair of the Committee on Environmentally Degradable Plastics and Biobased Products. He also serves as the USA technical expert to International Standards Organization (ISO) and is scientific advisor to the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), USDA BioPreferred Program; European certification organizations and other NGOs. He is a Fellow of the United States National Academy of Inventors and a Fellow of ASTM International; and has received the ASTM award of merit, the highest society award; DuPont’s Packaging Award for excellence in Innovation & Sustainability with the Coca Cola Plant bottle team; Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Award & State of Michigan Governor’s University Award for Commercialization Excellence; and the Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship Chair in Science & Technology Management & Commercialization, among others.

Dr. Chelsea Rochman

TFSATechnicalAdvisors_Chelsea_RochmanChelsea Rochman is an Assistant Professor in Ecology at the University of Toronto and a scientific advisor to Ocean Conservancy. Chelsea received her PhD in Ecology from a joint program between University of California, Davis and San Diego State University in 2013. She then was a Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Biology. She was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2016. Chelsea has been researching the sources, sinks and ecological implications of plastic debris in marine and freshwater habitats for more than a decade. She has published dozens of scientific papers in respected journals and has led international working groups about plastic pollution. In addition to her research, Chelsea works to translate her science beyond academia. For example, Chelsea presented her work to the United Nations General Assembly and at the U.S. Department of State.

Ted Siegler

TFSATechnicalAdvisors_Ted_SieglerTed Siegler, a Partner at DSM Environmental Services in Windsor, Vermont is a Resource Economist with 45 years of solid waste management experience.

Ted has specialized in improving the efficiency of materials and organics collection and processing systems in the United States and has worked in 15 countries around the world focusing on municipal finance and solid waste management. Over the past seven years Ted has been actively working on the issue of plastics in the marine environment.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Edith Cecchini
[email protected]
P: 202.280.6249

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