EU Commission launches a #PublicConsultation on Marine Litter

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on marine litter and is asking for opinions on how we can best address this problem. The Consultation will be open until 18th December 2013 and you can find it here.

See on ec.europa.eu

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Seas At Risk : What the EU can do to stop marine litter – New study out now

“For this commandment . . . is not . . . beyon...

IEEP report marine litter – There is no easy way to tackle the issue of marine litter: it is complicated and has many causes, impacts and inputs. As a high percentage of marine litter comes from land based sources, EU legislation is possibly the best way to address the problem and look for solutions.

In order to provide some concrete guidance on the potential for existing EU legislation to tackle the multitude of land based sources of marine litter items, Seas At Risk commissioned a study from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP). Their mission was to outline which existing pieces of EU legislation could be amended to ensure a significant drop in marine litter, and whether new legislation might be required to fill gaps in the existing body of regulation.

The IEEP study “How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter” provides an excellent overview of EU legislation that could have an impact on the amount of waste in the marine environment. Six policy instruments in particular are identified as having a high potential level of impact: the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Waste Framework Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Cosmetics Regulation, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (the funding instrument of the Common Fisheries Policy). This is either because they are relevant to a large range of marine litter items and sources, or may have a dramatic impact in terms of reducing an important type of litter.

Marine Debris is a Global Problem

Marine Debris is a Global Problem (Photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service)

The study’s main conclusion is that the basic framework for addressing this environmental problem is in place. However, several short-comings in the existing legislation were identified, most importantly the need for greater ambition in the current requirements and targets.

For example, if the Cosmetics Directive were to ban the use of micro plastics in sanitary products, this would greatly reduce the input of this damaging type of marine litter. However a full review of the scope and focus of the Directive would be needed to introduce such a ban.Several of the analysed legal instruments could have a significant impact on the management of marine litter, but do not mention the concept of litter at all. The study recommends that the concept of litter is defined and systematically included in the Waste Framework and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. Another way to make EU legislation more effective in tacking marine litter would be to include a reference to the marine litter descriptor of the MSFD. The study also flags up a worrying implementation gap. No matter how thorough the suite of legislation to tackle marine litter, without full implementation and enforcement by Member States it can have no impact on the problem.

The study comes at a crucial time in the fight to tackle marine litter, with the European Commission currently focused on a wide ranging review of EU waste legislation and targets. The recently adopted 7th Environmental Action Plan calls for an EU wide marine litter reduction target, with a public consultation on this expected soon. Additionally, a major conference is planned for 30th September in Brussels to present the outcome of the public consultation on the Green Paper on plastic waste.

In the meantime, the Member States are busy developing their national waste prevention plans – required under the Waste Framework Directive – and are in the context of the MSFD putting together programs of measures to reduce marine litter.

Seas At Risk intends to use the study results to ensure that prevention of marine litter is high on the EU agenda.

Newman, S, Watkins, E and Farmer, A (2013) How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London

view pdf | download pdf   

See on www.seas-at-risk.org

Marine Expert Says Ocean Litter Is Being Ingested By Humans

We’re Sitting on a Time Bomb

The plastic peril inflicting our oceans is now so severe humans are ingesting particles of litter, a leading marine expert has warned.

The vast quantities of plastics which litter the UK’s oceans are not only a real danger to sea life but could also threaten humans too, Paul Rose, the vice president of the Royal Geographical Society, has said.

Rose, who presented BBC Two’s recent landmark series Oceans and is one of the UK’s most experienced deep sea divers and marine experts, has said that 70% of marine litter is plastic and that the vast majority of this waste comes from the land.

“We are in the midst of a mad out of control plastic consumption experiment,” he told HuffPost UK Monday.

“The big question is just how far up the food chain this plastic waste will actually go,” he said.

See on www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

Study Documents Cigarette Environmental Hazards

Fish Don't Smoke Sign

Did you know? The vast majority of cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a kind of plastic that isn’t biodegradable. Don’t flick your cigarette butt! The beach is not an ashtray …

See on phys.org

Plastics “Unwrapped” at University of Washington’s Burke Museum

  By: Courtney Arthur, Marine Debris Research Coordinator

New exhibit called “Plastics Unwrapped” takes a look at the cultural changes that have led to the increasing use of plastics in the last 50 yrs. @University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

See on marinedebrisblog.wordpress.com

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