150 million tonnes of plastic waste in our oceans is enough! What politicians, businesses and consumers can do to achieve clean oceans.
1. KfW's commitment
KfW Group works towards clean oceans in two areas. In partnership with the Clean Oceans Initiative, the European Investment Bank and French development bank AFD, it works on waste and waste water projects in emerging and developing countries.
Promoting a circular economy is intended to support Europe's transition to an economy that conserves resources. Less waste will be produced in future with this approach.
2. Political action
The EU wants to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the oceans – with legislative measures and investments. To this end, the European Commission published its Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy in 2018, grouping all its measures into four categories:
Improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling. These include provisions to ensure that all packaging circulating within the EU is to be recycled or reused by 2030.
3. Consumer behaviour
Germany is the European champion when it comes to producing packaging waste. Citizens produce an average of 220 kilos per capita per year – including around 25 kilos of plastic. Each individual can do a great deal to reduce the amount of plastic. But a change in behaviour requires a change in thinking. Environmental organisations are doing important educational work in this respect, which has led to many consumers feeling motivated to change their habits. The six opportunities for action to deal with plastic are:
4. Technical innovations
Alternative packaging materials are needed so that new plastic is not created in the first place. North German start-up Superseven, which won the KfW Entrepreneurs’ Award in 2018, produces compostable cellulose film from timber under the brand name Repaq. Sven und Katja Seevers’ idea is often the centre of attention at trade fairs.
Eduardo Gordillo had another good idea for plastic alternatives. He manufactures disposable tableware made from compostable crop waste. “Any product can be reused, if it is designed that way from the start,” Gordillo says. His start-up Bio-Lutions was co-financed by KfW subsidiary DEG.
The described project contributes to the following United Nationsʼ Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Non-existent or dilapidated infrastructure hinders economic efficiency and thus engenders poverty. When building infrastructure, the focus should be on sustainability, for example, by promoting environmentally-friendly means of transport. Factories and industrial facilities should also ensure that production is in line with ecological aspects to avoid unnecessary environmental pollution.
All United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda in 2015. At its heart is a list of 17 goals for sustainable development, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our world should become a place where people are able to live in peace with each other in ways that are ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective.