Alliance to reduce marine litter

G20 conference Alliance to reduce marine litter

The G20 states have undertaken to reduce the amount of waste in the world’s rivers and wastewater, and thus reduce the level of waste in our oceans. Meeting in Bremen the G20 states have adopted an action plan to address the problem of marine litter.

A coast buried under mounds of waste

The G20 states want to reduce the level of waste in the world's seas and oceans

Photo: picture-alliance/Wildlife

Plastic packaging and other plastic waste account for the lion’s share of the 140 million tonnes of rubbish that litters the world’s seas and oceans. In some places rubbish islands the size of Central Europe can be seen floating on the seas. Birds, fishes and plants are already suffering or even dying as a result. Every year up to ten million tonnes more waste finds its way into our water.

Good waste management systems crucial

Against this background, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks welcomed the joint G20 action plan to tackle the problem of marine litter. "This is not a problem that two or three countries can resolve alone." Speaking in Bremen, the Minister said she was delighted by the agreement reached.

The crucial factor in reducing volumes of plastic waste is an across-the-board waste management system, that reliably and safely collects, recycles and disposes of waste, declared Barbara Hendricks. A large percentage of marine litter comes from wastewater or is washed into the sea by lakes and rivers.

Platform complements action plan

A new voluntary platform, the "Global Network of the Committed" (GNC) is to ensure that the action plan is implemented. It will ensure that non-governmental actors too are involved, and will foster further networking and support an exchange of experience.

In 2015 Germany initiated the G7 Action Plan to Combat Marine Litter, which set in motion a global movement. The plan is one of the world’s most important papers for addressing the problem of marine litter. Under Germany’s G20 Presidency, the measures are now to be expanded to embrace the G20, and taken to a new level with the help of a G20 action plan.

People see marine litter as a threat

Many people have now become aware of the issue of marine litter. Recent environmental awareness studies carried out by the German government indicate that 97 per cent of those surveyed consider waste in seas and oceans to be dangerous.