The 2020 Zero Waste Conference is pleased to welcome leading ocean plastics researcher Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Scientific Advisor to Ocean Conservancy and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, as a keynote.
New Plastics Waste Research
This week, the journal Science published a new study from Dr. Chelsea Rochman’s team that shows that plastics waste is entering waterways at an increasing rate and that existing actions are insufficient to stem the flow.
Dr. Rochman’s international research team estimates that 24 to 34 million metric tonnes of plastics enter aquatic ecosystems every year, and without new global actions, this will increase to 53 million metric tonnes by the year 2030.
Current Commitments Are Not Enough
The researchers assert that existing actions and commitments that focus on reducing microplastics, recycling and ocean clean-up are insufficient in dealing with the volume of plastics waste. They identify two options: Either the rate of plastic production must drop, or the plastic economy needs undergo a dramatic shift to the circular economy.
“Unless growth in plastic production and use is halted, a fundamental transformation of the plastic economy to a framework based on recycling is essential, where end-of-life plastic products are valued rather than becoming waste …
The global community must coordinate a fundamental transformation of the plastics economy, one that reduces the amount of virgin plastic production, and re-imagines how we make use and dispose of plastic materials.”
– Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor in Ecology, University of Toronto
The findings of Dr. Rochman’s team are similar to those of the Pew Foundation in their new report, Breaking the Plastic Wave. The latter provides a global analysis that shows that the annual flows of plastics into the oceans can be cut by about 80% in the next year by more widely applying existing solutions and technologies.
A Critical Crossroads
Ocean plastics have captured the world’s attention and all the latest research points to the same conclusion: we are at a critical crossroads for the future of our world’s oceans. With the science now clear, the global community must immediately respond to the global plastics challenge.
Meanwhile, the global oil industry is banking on the continued growth of the plastics market as worldwide demand for oil continues to fall. BP for example, forecasts plastics to represent 95 percent of the net growth in demand for oil between 2020 to 2040, as demand in automotive, industrial and energy sectors declines.
Tackling Ocean Plastics in One Generation
Join us at #ZWC20 for a conversation with Dr. Chelsea Rochman, one of Canada’s leading ocean plastics scientists, to explore how Canada can rise to the challenge of tackling plastic pollution in one generation.
Chelsea received her PhD in Ecology from a joint program between University of California, Davis and San Diego State University in 2013. Chelsea has been researching the sources 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.
2020 Zero Waste Conference:
Resiliency, Prosperity, Carbon Neutrality – The Circular Economy Solution
November 13, 2020