Executive Summary for October 6th

In our weekly roundup, we report on Prince Charles’s plea to save the seas at the Our Ocean conference in Malta, the European Union’s half-billion-dollar commitment to protect the ocean and a new bottle made in part from plastic trash.

Published on Oct. 6, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Prince Charles, Ocean Warrior

As the Our Ocean conference opened in Malta on Thursday, the most passionate plea to protect the seas came from Prince Charles, who confessed to “mounting despair about the planetary crisis.”

He said that the crisis “seems to be driven by a strange ideological urge to test the planet to destruction.”

Dispensing with diplomatic niceties, the Prince of Wales called for action to address ocean plastic pollution and overfishing. He also decried the impact of climate change on coral reefs. “Are we really going to allow ourselves the dismal comfort that we would only be left with a tiny fraction of them?” he asked, addressing more than 1,000 national leaders, advocates, business executives and policymakers.

“If the unprecedented ferocity of recent catastrophic hurricanes is not the supreme wake-up call that it needs to be, to address the vast and accumulating threat of climate change and ocean warming, then we – let alone the global insurance and financial sectors – can surely no longer consider ourselves part of a rational, sensible civilization,” Prince Charles said.

He also offered a word of caution about enthusiasm for the much talked-about “blue economy” – referring to the sustainable development of the ocean. “We should not mistake it for a new frontier of exploitation,” warned the prince.

E.U. Makes Big-Money Commitment to Ocean Protection

The European Union kicked off the 2017 Our Ocean conference by making a 550 million euro ($650 million) commitment toward protection of the seas.

The E.U., which is hosting this year’s conference in Malta, will fund 36 projects to combat illegal fishing, marine pollution, climate change and piracy. The funds will also support initiatives to promote the sustainable development of the ocean, the so-called blue economy.

The E.U. will invest 4 million euros ($5 million) in satellite monitoring of commercial fisheries and more than 250 million euros ($290 million) on research to, among other things, combat ocean plastic, develop renewable energy and reduce pollution from shipping.

“If the ocean was a country it would be one of the world’s biggest economies and would have a seat at the G7,” Federica Mogherini, E.U. high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, told delegates. “Our ocean is bigger than any continent, yet it is not too big to fail.”

“The health and safety of our ocean is a national security issue but it cannot be solved by any one nation,” she added.

The United States’ commitments announced on Thursday, in contrast, were rather small-scale, including about $9 million to help countries keep plastic from entering the ocean.

Turning Beach Plastic Trash into Bottles

As various corporations committed to reduce marine pollution at the Our Ocean conference, Procter & Gamble unveiled a liquid soap bottle made in part from plastic trash collected from the ocean and beaches.

The consumer goods giant will sell a limited edition of the Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle in the United Kingdom, according to Virginie Helias, its vice-president of sustainability. P&G worked with U.S. firm TerraCycle to obtain the ocean plastic and transform it into material that can be made into bottles. Ocean plastic will comprise 10 percent of the bottle, the remainder coming from other recycled plastic waste.

Why the soap bottle? “It sits on the kitchen sink and people will see the beach label and that it was made from beach plastic,” said Helias.

There is a reality check on this fairy tale, though. The handwash bottle costs about 40 percent more than a conventional container. “The real cost is the logistics of collecting this material,” said TerraCycle chief executive Tom Szaky. “The more polluted an area is, the more remote it tends to be.”

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