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Asia is carrying the brunt of global costs associated with ocean plastic pollution, but for how long?

By March 10, 2020August 27th, 2020No Comments

Ocean plastic pollution affects national economies by directly impacting key economic sectors or through costs associated with clean-up efforts. If we don’t create a demand for recycled plastic Asia will be most heavily hit. It will only be a matter of time before they follow China’s lead.  

According to a study by Deloitte and Ocean Cleanup, ocean plastic pollution can affect national economies in two ways. It can either directly impact key economic sectors, such as tourism or fisheries, or through costs associated with removing unsightly plastic from waterways, coastlines and oceans.  

Once a bottle hits the water the sun and salt degrade it within a few days, making it largely unusable for recycling. As opposed to economies losing out on huge amounts of tourist revenue or paying for clean-up operations, stopping coastline and ocean plastic pollution is by far the best solution. Jobs can be created in coastal communities and recycling infrastructure can safeguard against ocean plastic pollution. Yet this industry can only develop and flourish if consumers demand products made from recycled packaging.  

If we do not create demand for recycled plastic packaging, Asia will be mostly heavily hit. The study by Deloitte indicates that Asia is already carrying 86% of total global cost. The remaining economic damages are more evenly distributed across the rest of the world. In Asia costs are heavily skewed towards clean-up efforts. This is also the case for South America, where two thirds of costs will come from removing plastics from coastlines and oceans. With the exception of Africa, the rest of the world will suffer losses via key sectors such as marine tourism, fisheries and aquaculture.  

The results clearly highlight that ocean plastic pollution doesn’t discriminate but does affect economies, and therefor livelihoods, disproportionately.  It won’t be long before an increasing number of Asian countries follow China’s lead and refuse to take on the world’s plastic trash and its associated costs.  The result will likely be a more even distribution of the significant expense of ocean plastic clean-up, or worse, a plastic littered beach will become the norm worldwide.