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Why Engaging the Private Sector is Critical to Cleaning up Arctic Ocean Plastic Pollution

  • Rumaitha Al Busaidi
| Aug. 20, 2020

An Arctic Plastic Partnership could highlight the business advantage to solving the region’s marine plastic crisis.

When I traveled to Svalbard, it was easy to imagine that I was in a pristine Arctic wilderness, far from anything human-made. The archipelago's Barents Sea shores are hundreds of kilometers from the nearest mainland civilization. I could see a polar bear in the distance.

But then, I was shocked by the sight of waste that was piling up. It was mostly plastic, and it triggered alarm bells in my mind. During my time doing marine research in the Arctic Circle, I learned that the Arctic Ocean performs as a sink to marine litter from all over the world. Studies over the past decade have shown high concentrations of marine litter especially plastics in the Arctic region, posing an environmental danger to the biodiversity of the Arctic. Stronger public-private partnerships can serve as important vehicles to clean up Arctic waters, where businesses need to be fully integrated to address the plastic challenge. I propose an Arctic Plastic Partnership that offers a new approach, with the potential of leading to purposeful actions to combat plastic pollution and would hopefully be instrumental in ushering a new era of a plastic-reduced economy

Globally, climate change adaptation and mitigation have been mostly associated with the role of governments in implementing such policies. However, there is a need for the private sector to step in as a supplier of innovative goods and services in this space. The private sector — through design, developing innovative products and technologies, and promoting consumerism — could allow for unique contributions to meet climate change priorities. One area that the private sector could swiftly contribute to is clean oceans. According to the World Economic Forum, the United States, Europe and Asia together make up 85 percent of plastics production. Europe and the United States are not only home to substantial shares of plastic packaging production but also to the majority of global companies in the industry, including key decision-makers who determine the design of these packaging. To date, no specific initiatives on mobilizing the private sector have a special lens and focus on the Arctic and tackling plastic pollution in its waters....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Al Busaidi, Rumaitha .“Why Engaging the Private Sector is Critical to Cleaning up Arctic Ocean Plastic Pollution.” ArcticToday, August 20, 2020.

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