We’ve all witnessed the havoc that ocean plastic can wreak. We’ve seen the photos of wildlife trapped in six-pack rings, the orphan plastic littering our beaches, and scores of animals tangled in fishing lines. Since the early 1970s, we’ve been well aware of the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.
While mitigating the issue of ocean plastic is important, at TONTOTON, we’re more interested in an equally dangerous and exponentially growing issue: ocean-bound plastic.
What are ocean-bound plastics (OBP)?
Ocean-bound plastics are non-recyclable plastics that are likely to end up in the ocean. There are no real studies to show where these plastics come from, but when we’re talking about ocean-bound plastic, we’re referring to plastic found within 50km of the coast. They consist of low-value plastic that cannot be recycled—what we refer to as “orphan plastic”.
Ocean-bound describes plastic’s last stage before it ends up in the oceans. It appears in rivers, shorelines, and even land. While the majority of ocean-bound plastic originates within 50km of the shore, OBP may come from a location more inland, but because of mismanagement, it’s now headed toward our oceans. This means that ocean-bound plastics are an issue that everyone needs to be aware of and attempt to mitigate, even if you’re outside of the 50km range.
One study estimated that in 2010, 4.8 million to 17.7 million metric tonnes of plastic entered the ocean (out of 275 million metric tonnes of plastic produced worldwide that year). According to Ocean Wise, by 2030, it’s estimated that the equivalent of two dump-truck loads of plastic per minute will be dumped into the ocean. It’s important to note that any non-recyclable plastic can become OBP, so it’s important to properly manage your orphan plastic to ensure that it stays out of our oceans.
Why focus on ocean-bound plastic?
The majority of ocean plastic—around 80%—originates from the land. Once mismanaged plastic (plastic that is either littered or improperly disposed of) reaches the ocean, it’s much more difficult to clean up. Much of it sinks to depths that are too difficult to reach, and even the floating plastic is challenging to clean up and manage. On top of this, ocean plastics pose a great risk to wildlife and ecosystems. It’s best, therefore, that we stop ocean-bound plastics before they spoil our oceans.
While cleaning up ocean plastic is important, it’s a last-ditch effort responding to mismanaged plastic on land. Focusing on ocean-bound plastic is a more proactive approach to keeping our oceans clean.
How can we prevent non-recyclable OBP from becoming ocean plastic?
Ensuring that ocean-bound plastic does not become ocean plastic is no small task. Of course, the best way to guarantee that plastics stay out of the ocean is to reduce the creation and consumption of non-recyclable plastics and stop the issue at its source.
Unfortunately, non-recyclable plastics are too convenient—they’re cheap and easy to make, lightweight, and quite useful—which means that we’re still years away from eliminating non-recyclable plastics entirely.
While we wait for a viable substitute for non-recyclable plastics, we focus our efforts upon projects that seek to stop mismanaged OBP before it hits our oceans.
These projects attempt to do the following:
- Raise awareness about mismanaged OBP for both individuals and businesses.
- Reduce non-recyclable plastic consumption.
- Properly manage non-recyclable plastic (by collecting, treating, and processing the plastic for safe elimination).
- Work on clean-up methods (as a last resort; ideally, plastics would be properly managed before they turn into ocean-bound litter).
How can plastic credits reduce ocean-bound plastics?
Plastic credits through TONTOTON fund projects that focus on the above. Our goal is to properly gather, manage, and eliminate OBP before it joins the endless tonnes of plastic that already litter our oceans.
In order to properly eliminate the OBP that we gather and store, we valorize the plastic by co-processing rescued plastics to produce Alternative Fuels & Raw Materials. Once the plastics we have collected become valorized, we send our processing activities to the Control Union to obtain our Neutralization Certificate.
Through our projects, funded by plastic credits, we are able to properly manage tonnes of ocean-bound plastics before they reach our oceans and damage their fragile ecosystems.
The true key to eliminating environmental damage caused by orphan plastic is to stop using low-value, non-recyclable plastic altogether. While the world comes up with a viable way to eliminate non-recyclable plastics, our solution is to gather and manage ocean-bound plastics from our land, waterways, and beaches before we lose them to the oceans.