US and EC join Clean Seas Campaign

5 July 2022 | Muriel Cozier

A movement focused on ending marine litter and plastic pollution now has 69 Member States.

The Clean Seas Campaign, launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) during 2017, has been joined by the European Commission and the US. The news came during the United Nations Ocean Conference held 27 June – 1 July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal.

UNEP noted that in the lead-up to joining the campaign, the US had taken significant action to reduce plastic pollution. During 2021 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its National Recycling Strategy, committing to increase the US recycling rate to 50% by 2030.

In addition, the EPA is pursuing a Sustainable Materials Management approach by which it aims to reduce the environmental impacts of materials across their lifecycle. The EPA has also initiated the WasteWise Program, which works with businesses, governments and non-profit organisations to promote the use and reuse of materials over their entire lifecycle. Meanwhile, the US Department of Energy is working towards its Plastics Innovation Challenge Draft Roadmap (pdf link), which coordinates a number of initiatives on plastic recycling, degradation, up-cycling and design for circularity.

The European Commission has put in place strategies to promote the transition to a circular economy as part of the European Green Deal. A collection target of 90% for single-use plastic drinks bottles has been set for 2029, while incorporating 25% recycled plastic in PET drinks bottles has been targeted from 2025.

Nicole LeBoeuf, Assistant Administrator for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the US was committed to the Campaign’s objective of ‘turning the tide’ on marine litter and plastic pollution. ‘We welcome the opportunity the campaign offers to promote innovation and cooperation among all stakeholders,’ LeBoeuf said.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment added: ‘We must tackle plastic pollution with measures for the entire plastic lifecycle, from design to production, use, recycling and disposal, and by addressing the sources on land and in the sea.’

The Clean Seas Campaign now has 69 member states, which UNEP says covers more than 76% of the world’s coastlines. Other recent signatories to the campaign include Portugal, Rwanda and Tanzania.

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