Minister Barbara Creecy on marine pollution

Marine litter is a matter of national and global concern says Minister Barbara Creecy

Marine litter, including plastic litter, has become a matter of increasing global and national concern as a source of marine pollution. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has therefore prioritised efforts to deal with the challenge of marine litter.

There is sufficient evidence that a large percentage of pollution in the ocean originates from sources on land. In response to this growing concern, the department has developed a “Source-to-Sea” initiative focusing on managing litter sources, mainly from upstream catchments where the litter gets transported to the ocean and coastal areas by rivers and tributaries that discharge into the ocean.

“The Source-to-Sea programme involves multiple government departments, at the national, provincial and local level, as well as the private sector and other stakeholders, working in priority catchment areas, and providing job opportunities through the Working for the Coast program,” said the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, on the occasion of observing World Oceans Day, on 8th June.

The main objective of the pilot project is to reduce the prevalence of marine litter by up-scaling efforts to capture and recover litter in these river systems. The project also aimed to monitor and characterize the litter recovered and to conduct schools and community awareness initiatives.

This year’s World Oceans Day is observed under the theme: “Ocean: Life and Livelihood.” World Ocean Day was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 and is observed, since 2009, by all member states, including South Africa.

Marine litter primarily comes from towns and cities located along rivers and waterways, which become pathways for litter into the marine environment.

Minister Creecy also added that as part of the Presidency’s Employment Stimulus Initiative the Department is expanding the Source-to-Sea Programme into 16 coastal districts with the target of creating approximately 1 600 job opportunities. Planning is underway to commence this initiative in July 2021.

“As we grow our ocean economy, we also have to be cognisant of the impact of increasing human activity on the health of our oceans. It is essential that we manage our footprint and impact and put in place measures to protect our ocean and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity within the context of sustainable development. It is for this reason that South Africa’s Oceans Economy programme includes a specific priority and focus on marine protection and ocean governance,” said Minister Creecy.

Globally, plastic production has reached new highs, with over 320 million tons now being produced annually. It has been estimated that between 4 to 12 million tons of plastic are added to the oceans each year.

Our oceans are globally recognised as unique and a hotspot of marine biodiversity. The Atlantic, Southern and Indian Ocean’s fishing grounds are among the healthiest worldwide, and coastal tourism is, and has the potential to be a significant income earner for many African coastal nations. 

GREEN ECONOMY JOURNAL: PLASTICS PAST AND PRESENT IN SA [ON PAGE 10]

PLASTIC POLLUTION: A DROP IN THE OCEAN (PAGE 10)

courtesy: www.gov.za

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Sasol becomes a signatory of Operation Clean Sweep

Sasol has become the first raw material supplier to the South African plastics industry to become a signatory of Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) – an international stewardship programme designed to prevent resin pellet, flake, and powder loss and help keep this material out of the marine environment.  Sasol is committed to providing chemicals and energy in a responsible way and respecting the environment by continually improving performance to minimise and avoid adverse impacts.

Plastics|SA is the licensee and project coordinator for OCS in South Africa’s plastics industry.  As a signatory of the “Joint declaration for solutions to the problem of marine litter” which took place during the 5th International Conference on Marine Debris, held in Honolulu in 2011, it joined the international plastics community’s commitment to address the issue of plastics in the marine environment. 

Douw Steyn, Sustainability Director at Plastics|SA says spilled pellets, flakes and powder can make their way into local waterways and ultimately estuaries and the ocean. “This isn’t just an eyesore and a litter issue. Pellets, flakes and powder can be mistaken for food by birds or marine animals, and could harm them if ingested,” he explains.

As part of their plan of action to implement OCS in South Africa, Plastics|SA has developed a detailed toolkit and a manual that contains guidelines to help plastics industry operations managers reduce the accidental loss of pellets, flakes and powder from the manufacturing facility into the environment. To date, more than 9 local companies, as well as the PRO’s (Producer Responsibility Organisations) such as PETCO, Polyco, the Southern African Vinyls Association and Polystyrene Association of SA have taken the OCS pledge on behalf of their members and agreed to the following six commitments in order to establish / demonstrable environmentally responsible processes:

  1. Improving worksite set-up to prevent and address spills
  2. Creating and publishing internal procedures to achieve zero operations plastic material loss
  3. Providing employee training and accountability for spill prevention, containment, clean-up and disposal
  4. Auditing performance regularly
  5. Complying with all applicable state and local regulations governing operations plastics waste containment and management
  6. Encouraging value chain partners (contractors, transporters, distributors, etc.) to pursue the same goals.

Sasol as a responsible polymer producer aims to join other companies along the plastics value chain in ensuring that polymer pellets are manufactured, transported and stored responsibly until it is converted into the final product, says Bernard Klingenberg, Executive Director of Sasol.

“Through OCS Sasol will further minimise our environmental footprint by ensuring that our polymer is managed responsibly throughout the manufacturing life cycle stages to prevent any release into the environment.”

Bernard Klingenberg, Executive Director of Sasol

“We have conducted internal assessments at our South African production sites and implemented improvements which include reinforcing good housekeeping practices, employee awareness, and implementation of screens on drains.  In addition, Sasol is in the process of engaging with supply chain partners to assist them where necessary in adopting these important practices”, says Klingenberg.

Leading up to the signing of the OCS Pledge Sasol undertook various activities towards becoming an OS member which include education and awareness sessions, production facility audits, and conducted self-assessments questionnaires along Sasol’s supply chain. 

Plastics | SA is highly appreciative of these results and the commitment shown by Sasol to OCS to prevent resin pellet, flake, and powder loss and help keep this material out of the marine environment and welcomes Sasol as the first raw material supplier as a signatory of OCS in South Africa.

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