Litter in the seas is a major global environmental problem. In connection with the Ocean Conference in New York, Sweden is joining the Clean Seas Campaign, a global UN Environment initiative to reduce marine litter. Sweden will also provide financial support to UN Environment’s work on the issue.
“Oceans are the lifeblood of humanity, but they are being turned into rubbish dumps. We have a collective responsibility to act, and to act now. We need to turn the tide on plastic waste, protect biodiversity and keep the oceans rich and clean. It’s an investment in our own survival,” says Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog.
The Clean Seas Campaign was launched in January 2017. It aims to increase global awareness of the need to reduce marine litter. The need for measures differs in different parts of the world. Proper waste management infrastructure is lacking in some areas, while in others the challenge involves the general public’s awareness of the impact litter has on the environment.
“Sweden’s generosity and strong support will help us intensify our work and translate the science into global awareness and concrete action,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment.
Joining the Clean Seas Campaign means that Sweden will provide SEK 9 million in support, which is also support to UN Environment’s global efforts in the area.
Much of marine litter originates on land. It is therefore necessary to not focus solely on litter that has already ended up in the sea, but also on land-based pollution ‘from source to ocean’. Sweden is also investing a further SEK 5 million to support UN Environment in its efforts to tackle pollution from land-based sources.
Sweden’s measures to reduce marine litter
Sweden is already doing a great deal to tackle the problem of marine litter, including a national collection system, waste management technologies and a deposit-refund system for PET bottles. From 31 May, shops will be required to inform customers about the negative environmental impact of plastic carrier bags, and Sweden will soon introduce a ban on microplastics in cosmetic products intended to be rinsed off. The Swedish Government has recently announced new financial support for domestic actions, as well as appointed a state investigation on plastics.