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The Transition | June 2024
People and progress in solving the ocean plastic crisis

About OpenOceans Global. Our work centers on mapping ocean plastic, curating the best solutions, and linking together a community of ocean plastic experts and leaders. Learn more on the Weather Channel's Pattrn interview, NBC7/39's Down to Earth segment, and ArcNews.

Past issues of The Transition



In This Issue: (links to articles below)

  • Deeper Dive: Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles: which is best?
  • SURVEY: What materials should be used to package beverages?
  • Deeper Dive: Philippines makes strides in addressing plastic pollution
  • Tracking Plastic News
  • Coastal Hotspot: Kedonganan Beach, Bali, Indonesia
  • Featured Solution: The Circularity Assessment Protocol in Cities to Reduce Plastic Pollution
  • Expert: Fredrik Haag - Co-chair, Global Partnership on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter
  • Expert: Megan Lamson - President and Hawai’i Program Director, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund


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Did you know?

Around 117,000 plastic bottles will have been used by the time you finish reading this sentence.


Taking a Deeper Dive

Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles: which is best?

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The supply chains for beverages packaged in glass and aluminum are alive and well at Costco. Image credits: Carl Nettleton

A reader wrote:

“Coca-Cola packages their products in glass, aluminum, and plastic. Ask them to package their products in glass and aluminum. Think of the marketing benefits of reducing plastic use.”

Why are Coca-Cola and the other soft drink manufacturers willing to risk the negative publicity resulting from the massive use of plastic bottles when they already have supply chains in place to package beverages in aluminum or glass?

From a consumer perspective, some people report soft drinks in aluminum cans taste funny. Others like the ability to close plastic bottles with a screw top, even though aluminum cans can be made with a screw top. They like that plastic and aluminum can’t break like glass. How much are consumers unknowingly contributing to ocean plastic pollution because they choose plastic bottles over aluminum or glass?

Here are some other considerations:

  1. Plastic. 481.6 BILLION plastic bottles were used worldwide in a single year. Plastic bottles and lids are consistently in the top 10 items found during cleanups. Recycling plastic bottles is limited. After a few times, it degrades and can only be downcycled. There are increasing reports that microplastic and chemicals migrate into the liquid from the bottle. According to the United Nations, if you finish a liter of bottled water, you are likely to swallow around 240,000 plastic fragments.
  2. Aluminum is 100% recyclable, and can be recycled forever. Aluminum cans contain a thin film of plastic that protects the metal from corrosion. The plastic is dissolved during the recycling process. Bauxite mining is not good for the environment and is a major industry.
  3. Glass is made from silicon, “the second most common element in the Earth's crust,” according to Statista. It does not need a plastic lining and the bottles can either be recycled or reused. The downsides are weight, which might contribute to more GHG emissions during transportation, more use of water for cleaning, and breakage when dropped.


Please take this two-question, anonymous survey to tell OpenOceans what you think is the best packaging for beverages.

Taking a Deeper Dive

The Philippines makes strides in addressing plastic pollution

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A low-cost garbage filtering system catches all forms of rubbish in a dirty, flowing river in Cebu City, The Philippines. Image credit: World Bank

The Philippines has been widely recognized as one of the countries contributing the most plastic to the ocean. In 2021, The Ocean Cleanup estimated that as much as 36% of plastic reaching the ocean from rivers came from the Philippines. Florida State University’s data estimated 16% of ocean plastic comes from The Philippines, also in 2021.

But things might be changing in the Philippines.

In 2019, after a dramatic increase in the importation of plastic waste, the federal government banned the importation of plastic waste. The Philippines was once one of two countries accepting more imported plastic waste than any other.

The ban followed the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and preceded the 2021 National Plan of Action for the Prevention, Reduction, and Management of Marine Litter. “While the Philippines has established these comprehensive laws and action plans to address the issue, more effective implementation and stakeholder involvement are necessary to achieve tangible results,” according to a March 16, 2023, World Bank blog.

In 2023, the government passed the Extended Producer Responsibility Act (EPRA) which “enlists the help of large enterprises by making them more responsible for their own waste,” according to Arowana Impact Capital, a firm focusing its investments on achieving social and environmental impact across the world. The act sets corporate target recovery rates, a self-identified plan to verify how recovery rates are achieved, keeping a registry of all EPR programs, a schedule of fines, and the regulatory organizations to oversee the work required in the EPRA.

The Jambeck Research Group has created a Circularity Assessment Protocol (CAP) that has been implemented in 51 communities in 14 countries. In Metro Manila, three communities in the region successfully implemented the protocol in conjunction with Save Philippine Seas. The protocol recognizes that “the burden of waste management inherently falls at the community level” and uses an approach “to holistically characterize how materials come into a community, are consumed, and go out, including into the local environment.”

Community engagement is also becoming important. The Rotary Club of Manila has taken a leading community role in cleaning up the Pasig River, a stream running through the heart of Manila that delivers more plastic to the ocean than any other river in the world. Rotary’s work is in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

These actions provide hope that the Philippines can become a leader in addressing ocean plastic pollution.




Tracking Plastic News

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Image credit: Plastics News / Michael Leo

  • Considering the eras before, and after, single-use plastics, Plastics News, June 20, 2024
  • Amazon Cuts Plastic Use in North America, Following Campaigning by Oceana, Waste Advantage, June 21, 2024
  • European official sees ‘very difficult' hurdles for plastics treaty, Plastics News, June 20, 2024
  • The Delusion of “Advanced” Plastic Recycling, ProPublica, June 20, 2024
  • How the recycling symbol lost its meaning, Grist, June 12, 2024
  • US Plastics Pact releases packaging Roadmap 2.0, recycling today, June 10, 2024
  • Costco: Reducing plastics use, one chicken at a time, Plastics News, June 10, 2024
  • The plastics we breathe: How microplastics invade our organs, The Washington Post, June 10, 2024
  • Protecting the people who sort most of the world's recycled plastics, Plastics News, June 7, 2024
  • Coke sealed in plastic after dissolving the metal part of the can, useless plastic, June 7, 2024 (Instagram video)
  • Lux Research sees lack of plastic pyrolysis accomplishments, recycling today, June 7, 2024
  • Australian committee calls for major updates to halt plastic pollution, Plastics News, June 6, 2024
  • Study maps human uptake of microplastics across 109 countries, PHYS.ORG, May 22, 2024


Help Locate Plastic-Fouled Coastlines

Each month we share an image of a beach fouled by plastic. To report a shoreline pervasively fouled by significant amounts of plastic debris, use our online plastic trash reporting app. Thank you!

This Month’s Coastal Hotspot: Kedonganan Beach, Bali, Indonesia

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Image credit: The Bali Sun / infodenpasar

Kedonganan Beach is one of many beaches on the southern coast of Bali seasonally trashed by waves of plastic debris. Fishermen complain of declining catches, and, according to The Bali Sun, “with tides of plastic waste accumulating in these areas before being washed onto shore on a regular basis, there is no telling how much damage this is doing to the marine life beneath the surface.” The publication says the village’s fishing and tourism economies are in danger due to the increasing tides of trash.



Solutions to the Ocean Plastic Crisis

See more solutions on our ocean plastic solutions page. Have a solution we should know about? Submit it here.

This Month's Featured Solution: The Circularity Assessment Protocol in Cities to Reduce Plastic Pollution

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The Circularity Assessment Protocol diagram. Image credit: Jambeck Research Group

The circular economy has been promoted as a solution to plastic pollution. Yet it is the cities and communities, not producers, that bear the brunt of plastic pollution and the responsibility for creating circular economies. The Circularity Assessment Protocol, or CAP, developed by the Jambeck Research Group, is a collaborative framework for communities to collect data on circular materials management, like plastic packaging or food. CAP identifies opportunities to inform circularity, future actions, and policy, in a scalable way, to create systems change for plastic pollution from the ground up. CAP uses a hub-and-spoke approach to characterize how materials come into a community, are consumed, and go out, including into the local environment. Communities choose the path that suits them in their context and situation.


Meet the Experts and Leaders

OpenOceans Global is identifying ocean plastic experts from around the world. Here are two experts leading efforts to reduce plastic pollution that you should know about.

Fredrik Haag - Co-chair, Global Partnership on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter

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Image credit: United Nations Environment Programme

Fredrik Haag is the Co-chair of the Global Partnership on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter (GPML), a United Nations partnership that brings together stakeholders working to address the global problem of marine litter and plastic pollution. Specific objectives of the GPML include: reducing the leakage of plastics into the ocean through improved design; the application of reduce, re-use, and recycle processes; encouraging ‘closed-loop’ systems and more circular production cycles; maximizing resource efficiency; and minimizing waste generation. In his day job, Haag heads the London Convention/Protocol and Ocean Affairs Office for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) where he focuses on dumping wastes and other matters at sea. The IMO is a United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. Fredrik joined IMO in 2006, represents IMO in several UN-wide processes, and has been deeply involved in matters related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), and the Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP). He is also involved in IMO’s work on Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), marine litter, noise, and ship strikes. Haag has also contributed to work on GHG emissions from ships and on ballast water management. He has a background in applied environmental research, focusing on marine and coastal zone management, and holds an M.Sc. in Earth Sciences and a Licentiate of Philosophy in Environmental Impact Assessment from Uppsala University, Sweden, and a Master's in Maritime Affairs from the World Maritime University.

Megan Lamson - President and Hawai’i Program Director, Hawai'i Wildlife Fund

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Megan Lamson with a highway marker from Japan found during a 2015 Hawai’i beach cleanup event, likely from the Japanese tsunami.
Image credit: Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund / Pam Longobardi

Megan Lamson is the President and Hawaiʻi Program Director for the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of Hawaii’s native wildlife. Lamson has been working and volunteering for the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund since 2008, and during that time has helped to coordinate the removal of 250 tons of marine debris from the shores of Hawaiʻi Island and supported removal efforts on Maui, Lānaʻi, and Kauaʻi. In 2016, Lamson participated in the Hawaiʻi Island Packaging and Sustainability Task Force, sponsored by the Hawaiʻi County Council, and has continued to support local plastic reduction policy initiatives. In addition, Lamson continues to give presentations on marine debris and marine resources in college classrooms, professional meetings, and international conferences. She has co-authored papers and studies on marine debris and coral reefs in Hawaiʻi. In addition, she surveys fish and coral habitats along the West Hawaiʻi coastline for the State of Hawaiʻi’s Division of Aquatic Resources in Kona. Lamson is a marine biologist specializing in coral reef fish ecology and community-based management projects. She received her BS in Marine Biology from the University of California in Santa Cruz and an MS in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Lamson also volunteers for several community organizations, including on the boards of nonprofits Ka ʻOhana O Honuʻapo and the Moku o Keawe Land Conservancy. In her free time, Megan likes to run, swim, farm, and travel with her husband and dogs.



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Please consider supporting our important work.

OpenOceans Global is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.


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