Turn the tide on plastic

The Ocean Summits are helping solve the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans

In conjunction with the Volvo Ocean Race, a series of Ocean Summits are being held to bring science, politics, government and sport together around a critical issue: plastic pollution. To coincide with the start of the sailing race, the first Ocean Summit will be held on October 18 in Alicante, Spain. I will be there with AkzoNobel to participate in this important forum.

The Ocean Summits

The Summits provide a platform to bring about real action on ocean health. It is a serious challenge, but I am confident that bringing together such diverse perspectives will help us find our way to some solutions. With team AkzoNobel in the race, and our own track record of leadership in sustainability, we want to take this unique opportunity to share and learn from others.

This race really is a fitting catalyst to bring us all together around this topic. If there’s one thing the Volvo Ocean Race can’t do without, it’s the ocean. It’s the stage on which anything can – and will – happen, and yet it is itself under attack from something small but powerful: plastic.

Plastic pollution

The statistics are staggering. More than five trillion pieces of plastic currently litter our oceans, with eight million tons being added every year. Record-breaking sailor Ellen MacArthur even claims that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. That is, unless we do something about it.

The good news is that we are waking up to this problem – and I believe it’s not too late to reverse the trend.

Turning the tide

Steps taken in countries around the world are serving as evidence that we can do something about it. Rwanda and Bangladesh have already banned plastic bags. Canada has added microbeads to its toxic substances list. France has vowed to phase out single use plastic cups, plates and cutlery by 2020. And the United States and United Kingdom have recently banned microbeads in cosmetic products. But there is much more that we can do.

At the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, there is a concerted effort to turn the tide on plastic. The race has put sustainability at its center with a promise to take action on the rapidly growing problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Business is sustainability

I am extremely happy that AkzoNobel is also playing a role as a partner of the Sustainability program. There’s a fundamental link between the sustainability goals of the race and our own efforts as a corporate organization. For us, it comes down to our fundamental belief that sustainability is business, and business is sustainability.

This sustainability partnership will focus on education. Teaching people how to reduce their plastic use and protect our oceans is a way for us to continue building on our long-established commitment to sustainability. And as part of that running commitment, I am looking forward to representing AkzoNobel in a panel discussing the plastic value chain.

We can change – and the good news is that it begins with small steps. Switch your plastic bag for a reusable one. Carry a refillable water bottle. Talk to others about doing the same. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to the planet. Let’s turn the tide on plastic in 2017-18!

Kerstin Stranimaier
Kerstin Stranimaier, Director Planet Possible, AkzoNobel