UN officials have praised promises by several Asian nations to clean up their act when it comes to ocean plastic pollution. Delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines stated at a UN oceans summit that they would work to keep plastics out of the sea. It is estimated that up to 13 million tonnes of plastic flow into the world’s seas and oceans every year. Most of this marine plastic debris is caused by inefficient waste management. The Helmholtz Centre in Leipzig, Germany estimates that 75% of marine pollution comes from just 10 rivers – predominantly in Asia.
The Thai government says that it has established a 20 year strategy to tackle the problem, including financial incentives, encouraging eco-packing and eco-friendly substitutes for plastics. In Indonesia, the government is starting a mass education programme for schoolchildren, and new laws are being developed in the Philippines. Due to the size of the problem there is clearly a long way to go, and some environmentalists claim the measures proposed are not urgent enough. This may be true, but it is still encouraging to see that the nations responsible for much of the world’s ocean plastic pollution are now starting to take the issue more seriously.