A massive fire struck the Baseco compound two weeks ago and many families were left homeless. Approximately 500 residents are still at the evacuation center. Residents of Baseco were the recipients of clothing, rice, and other items from CoOp’s collection of goods at Ayala Alabang Village to assist the people in their times of need. The 30Kg of clothes are still in good useable condition and will be distributed amongst the residents of the barangay, keeping these clothes away from the oceans and landfills.
In fact, there is a worldwide trend to eschew fast fashion and new clothes, with many opting to acquire second hand clothes via thrift shops and garage sales. This type of second hand shopping lessens the impact that clothing manufacturing has on the environment. The sale and trade of second hand clothing around the world has turned into a $US 24 billion dollar industry, according to retail analytics firm GlobalData. By 2028, the used clothing industry is set to reach $64 billion in the United States alone, while the fast fashion market will hit approximately $US44 billion.
The second hand clothing market achieves several goals just by virtue of the product being second hand. First, second hand clothing lessens the impact that fast fashion has on the environment. (Some studies point to the industry emitting 1.2 billion tons of C02 equivalent each year, and 20 percent of global wastewater. In 2015, 92 million tons of wastewater was produced, which ended up in the world’s oceans, rivers, other freshwater sources and the soil.) And materials derived from petrochemical sources such as plastic polymers like nylon, rayon, viscose, and polyester make up 63 percent of clothing produced.
Second, those who prefer second hand clothes no longer have to pay exorbitant prices for brand new clothing (For example, a brand new pair of Kanvas By Katin nylon boardshorts retail for $US 80, while a similar Made in USA cut of the same exact boardshort can be had for $3.99 to $9.99 at a used goods store such as Salvation Army). That is massive savings.
The folks at Baseco get new (to them) articles of clothing that will last for years before they can be turned into something else. And less clothing ends up in the oceans and landfills.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and the Surfrider Foundation have filed a lawsuit compelling the Trump administration to declare 17 bodies of water in the Hawaiian Island chain “impaired” under the Clean Water Act due to massive amounts of plastic pollution in those waters. The administration has thus far failed to examine the studies, according to a press release put out by the Center.
“The beaches where our keiki (children) gathered shells are now covered in plastic. Waters where our families fish are filled with toxic debris. Marine life in our coral reefs is choking on microplastics,” said Maxx Phillips, the Center’s Hawaii director. “It’s a crisis we have to address before it’s too late.”
According to the Center, the Clean Water Act requires that the Environmental Protection Agency designate as impaired all bodies of water in the country that do not meet state water quality standards. Once a body of water is declared as impaired, the government must take action to reduce the pollution. Surveys have found that much of the plastic found in Hawaiian waters originate in the state.
“As one of the leaders in plastic pollution cleanup and education in Hawaii, we’ve witnessed the increasing threats of Hawaii’s plastic pollution epidemic,” said Rafael Bergstrom, executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. “Every year, a denser wave of plastic makes its way into our coastal waters. This insidious pollution shows up as giant heaps of nets that strangle our endangered marine life and as the most microscopic fragments that are mistaken for food by fish and animals of all sizes. Our islands need action on one of the most devastating forms of water pollution our planet has seen.”
The plastic pollution found in the waters off the Hawaiian island chain ranges from plastic water bottles and food containers to fishing nets and plastic goods. These materials make their way into the human food chain and are also killing marine life such as sea birds and turtles.
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and has one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet. It is also second to China as the world’s second most ocean polluter. The country has realized that what it is contributing to the world in terms of plastic pollution cannot continue, and has formulated an action plan to reduce, and eventually eliminate plastic pollution. It has some serious goals—cut marine plastic waste by 70 percent in five years, and become plastic pollution free by 2040. That is just a single generation. According to the World Bank, Indonesia generates 24,500 tons of plastic waste every day. Of that, some estimate 20 percent of that plastic pollution ends up in the country’s rivers and oceans.
“Our beautiful nation is grappling with a serious plastic pollution challenge. We are home to the world’s largest archipelago – more than 17,000 islands, 81,000 kilometres of coastlines and a rich abundance of biodiverse marine ecosystems. Our pristine natural environment is a gift that we have treasured for thousands of years, and one that we must pass down to future generations,” Luhut B. Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs of Indonesia said in the 2020 World Economic Forum annual meeting last week.
“At the same time, the amount of plastic waste generated in Indonesia each year is growing at unsustainable levels. In our cities, our waterways and our coastlines, the accumulation of toxic plastic waste is harming our food systems and the health of our people. Our booming fishing industry, the second-largest in the world, is under threat from rising levels of marine plastic debris. By 2025, the amount of plastic waste leaking into our oceans could increase to 800,000 tonnes – if no action is taken.
“I’m proud to announce that Indonesia will be choosing not what is easy, but what is right. Rather than staying with a ‘business as usual’ approach, we will be embracing a sweeping, full-system-change approach to combatting plastic waste and pollution, one that we hope will spark greater collaboration and commitment from others on the global stage.”
“The vision goes even further: by 2040, we aim to achieve a plastic pollution-free Indonesia – one that embodies the principle of the circular economy, in which plastics will no longer end up in our oceans, waterways and landfills, but will go on to have a new life.”
Five points of action
To successfully reach the 70% reduction target by 2025, we are committed to leading five system-change interventions that will change the way plastics are produced, used, and disposed of.
1) Reduce or substitute plastic usage to prevent the consumption of 1.1 million tonnes of plastic per year. We will work with industry leaders in Indonesia to transform their supply chains by rooting out plastic materials that can be avoided. Examples include replacing single-use packaging with reusable packaging; embracing new delivery models, such as refill shops; and empowering consumers to move away from single-use plastic consumption.
2) Redesign plastic products and packaging with reuse or recycling in mind. Recognizing that some forms of plastics cannot be substituted with alternative materials, we need to make sure that they do not become mismanaged waste. We will work with manufacturers and innovators to champion an industry-wide shift towards circular plastics – with the ultimate goal of making all plastic waste a valuable commodity for reuse or recycling.
3) Double plastic waste collection to 80% by 2025. Currently, around 39% of the total plastic waste in Indonesia is collected; in rural and remote areas, this figure is as low as 16%.[ii] We need to aggressively invest in our waste-collection infrastructure, both in the formal sector (government employees) and the robust informal sector (waste pickers, many of them women, who play a significant role in our national waste management efforts).
4) Double our current recycling capacity to process an additional 975,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year.[iii] In 2017, only 10% of plastics generated in Indonesia were recycled. We urgently need to close this capacity gap by directing investment into expanding existing infrastructure facilities and building new infrastructure to match the explosive growth in plastic production across the ASEAN region.
5) Build or expand safe waste disposal facilities to manage an additional 3.3 million tonnes of plastic waste per year.[iv] This is our last chance to put a safeguarding measure at the end of the plastic lifecycle to prevent plastic waste from becoming plastic pollution. These facilities will allow us to safely dispose of non-recyclable plastic materials, as well as plastic waste that is generated in remote locations without recycling facilities.
To achieve these goals, Indonesia will work with consumers and manufacturers to achieve a circular plastic solution, with the goal of making all plastics a valuable commodity for reuse and recycling. Manufacturers who claim that consumers prefer plastics should take note. With more than 100 million Indonesians, these manufacturers better start innovating or risk losing out on a massive market to sell their products.
Copepods, those tiny crustaceans that make up much of the building blocks of marine life, have been found to be ingesting tiny beads of plastic trash, also known as microplastics. These tiny animals usually eat algae, and are fed upon by larger organisms which in turn are eaten by larger organisms up the food chain, but Emily Shore, a student researcher at the University of Vermont has shown that the fecal material, otherwise known as poop, of Acartia tonsa copepods in her study, has shortened considerably, as these organisms, often just one millimeter in length, consume more micro plastics and less algae.
“I have some data from a previous experiment where the adults were laying shorter fecal lengths, which showed that they were consuming less algae—and more microplastics,” Shore told UVM Today. “There was less biomatter to make the fecal lengths longer.”
Acartia tonsa is an important food source for Atlantic fish, and they do well in laboratory situations, so Shore and her professor,Melissa Pespeni, can reproduce them in the lab and study how microplastics affects these crustaceans for the duration of their lives.
It is not surprising that these little critters are eating microplastics, because the world’s oceans are inundated with these man-made materials. Researchers with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego released a study last year that says microscopic plastics off the California coast has doubled every 15 years since the 1940s, and the increase in these marine plastics matches the rise in plastic production worldwide.
And a study of shellfish off the coast of the United Kingdom found that 100 percent of mussels taken from UK waters as well as supermarket-purchased mussels contained microplastics and other debris in their systems.
Shore, who is pursuing an accelerated master’s degree in biology, is hoping that more attention is placed on the perils of marine plastics in the world’s oceans.
“There’s just not enough attention on plastic pollution in the ocean. It’s scary because you can’t see all these critters, except with a microscope,” Shore said, “but they’re out there, eating plastic. Which means we are too.”
None of these executives are smiling. They have launched the fund in an effort to clean up the oceans and prevent plastics from entering the evironment in the first place. Left to right: Rob Kaplan (Founder & CEO, Circulate Capital), Bambang Candra (Asia-Pacific Commercial Vice President, Dow Packaging and Speciality Plastics), Matt Echols (Vice President, Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific), and Matt Kovac (Executive Director, Food Industry Asia)
A venture capital fund management company in Singapore has launched a $US100 million plastic pollution fund in an effort to curtail the flow of plastics into the oceans of Asia. The partners of the fund, the Circulate Capital Ocean Fund (CCOF), include some of the largest conglomerates whose product packaging is often seen in coastal cleanups, including The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company.
The fund will finance debt and equity financing for regional waste management efforts, and recycling and circular economy startups that are fighting what the fund calls a plastic crisis.
“The good news is that we are able to reduce nearly 50% of the world’s plastic leakage by investing in the waste and recycling sector in Asia, and even more if we invest in innovative materials and technologies,” Rob Kaplan, CEO of Circulate Capital said in a statement released to the media. “This is why we are here in Singapore—a strategic hub of Southeast Asia—to prove that investing in this sector is scalable for the region and can generate competitive returns while moving closer to solving the ocean plastic crisis.”
About 60 percent of marine plastics originate from Southeast Asia, with China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam the top five ocean polluting countries in the world. A large portion of these pollutants can most likely be traced to the conglomerates that are contributing to the fund. They have realized that without efforts from industry, the marine plastic pollution problem cannot be corrected.
“Financing alone cannot solve the ocean plastic crisis,” the fund wrote in its press release. “It requires a full suite of solutions from policy and corporate commitments to financial incentives and changes in CONSUMER BEHAVIOR.”
“For the beverage sector, the more recycled content used in any type of packaging such as 100% recyclable plastics, the lower the carbon footprint. That’s why at Coca-Cola we have invested in Circulate Capital and have committed to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we produce by 2030. Beverage packaging does not need to become waste. By investing in the waste collection and recycling sector in this critical region, it can become a valuable material used again and again—a step closer towards a circular economy,” said Matt Echols, Vice President, Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability Coca-Cola Asia Pacific.
Circulate Capital was created in collaboration with Closed Loop Partners and Ocean Conservancy, and our founding investors include PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, the fund wrote.