All the experts and dignitaries at the launch pledged support to government’s Operation Phakisa, which aims to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans and the potential to contribute billions in the future. Sustainable Seas Trust said that Africa may soon become as badly polluted as South East Asia, which has the foulest record on the planet.
Speakers at the event talked about the goal to reduce the amount of waste, particularly plastic, which is dumped into the oceans so as to guarantee a sustainable and healthy environment for future generations.
“This initiative and the launch of the African Marine Waste Network is extremely relevant, because this is about action, it’s about how we can collectively and collaboratively and inclusively address the issues around pollution and waste management,” said Andre Share, a representative of the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs.
Plastics, when they reach the end of life, are still too valuable to throw away. It can still be used to create a similar product like bottle to bottle type of recycling. New products can be developed,” said Anton Hanekom, executive director of Plastics SA.
“In 2011, we became the first association in Africa to sign the Global Marine Debris Declaration. Currently more than 65 associations worldwide from 34 countries have signed the declaration. It’s a public commitment from the World Plastics Industry to deal with marine debris,” added Mr. Hanekom.
Plastics SA will host an international coastal clean-up on September 16 and 17 to incorporate with recycling day and the International Coastal Clean-up Day.
Keynote speaker of the event, Kristian Teleki from the Prince of Wales Foundation, said that more plastic is being used each year and that this material can take more than an entire lifespan to decay and decompose.
It is feared that the rapid development in Africa, coupled with poverty, will see waste accumulation outpace management.
Mr. Teleki said that he hoped that this African Marine Waste Network would help fill in the gaps about marine waste disposal management in African nations.
Teleki also spoke about how more plastics should be returned for recycling for a circular economy to function, instead of throwing it away as waste. The more unwanted products are returned for recycling the better the circular economy will work and in turn save both money and the environment.