The “pale blue dot” — our precious planet Earth — is mostly covered by vast bodies of water — our vital, beautiful oceans.
Oceans are teeming with life and are a fundamental part of our planet’s ecosystem, providing a vibrant connection between land masses and our rivers, lakes and waterways.
However, our oceans’ health is being negatively impacted by pollution, including “Ocean-Bound Plastics” or “OBP.”
Ocean-Bound Plastics and Rivers
In particular, rivers play a significant role in maintaining the health of our ocean ecosystems.
The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization committed to cleaning the planet’s oceans of plastics, estimates that 80 percent of the world’s OBP enters the oceans through 1,000 rivers.
International Day of Action for Rivers 2021
March 14, 2021 is International Day of Action for Rivers, a day dedicated to global communities coming together in the shared commitment of protecting the world’s rivers.
Whether you’re an organizer, participant or supporter, here are the things you should understand as you approach this to keep our rivers clean.
1. Diverting Ocean-Bound Plastics Helps Marine Wildlife
Ocean-Bound Plastics (OBP) running through rivers can have serious negative implications on wildlife and biodiversity. Those OBP disintegrate into microplastic beads that are consumed by marine wildlife and often find their way into human food products.
And it’s growing. In 2019, Nature magazine said plastic waste entering the oceans was expected to increase 10-fold by 2025. It’s a dangerous trend we must reverse.
For those committed to maintaining the health of rivers, there are many opportunities to clean plastic debris and prevent them from making their way to the ocean. Oceanworks identified key points where it’s possible to divert plastics before they reach the ocean.
Ocean-Bound – Collecting plastics within 50 km of the shoreline in a country where waste management programs are still being developed
Waterway – Collecting plastics found in rivers and canals flowing to the sea
Coastal — Collecting plastics on beaches and coastlines
Near-Shore — Collecting material suspended in the shallow or adjacent areas of the ocean that are close but not accumulating on the shoreline
Of course, stopping the flow of plastic to the ocean before it even starts with pre-consumer and post-consumer product recycling is the ideal solution.
2. Local Efforts Can Have Global Impact
Diverting OBP is a global effort. Even if you don’t live near an ocean or river, you can help maintain the health of our waterways.
Lavergne’s Haiti project is a perfect example. In Haiti, Lavergne employs local collectors to recover OBP such as discarded water bottles and deliver them to local collection centers. Those plastics are collected from towns, roadways and informal landfills, as those materials inevitably end up in the canals or rivers flowing towards the ocean.
Lavergne runs a comprehensive washline in Haiti and employs local people to run the process of shredding, cleaning and sorting the recovered plastics. The resulting plastic flakes are shipped to Lavergne’s Montreal facility to be compounded into Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastics.
Our efforts in Haiti remove those OBP from the environment and give them a new life through our closed-loop system.
3. Clean-up Efforts Enhance Closed-Loop Systems
Lavergne’s OBP recovery process is part of a closed-loop system — a methodology that sees plastics being reused infinitely, creating new products and reducing waste.
Our closed loop process uses every available tool — right from manual collection of ocean-bound plastic in Haiti through to the advanced chemical engineering of Lavergne’s “secret sauce” at our facility in Montreal, Canada — to move closer to “Closing the Tap” and helping to reduce the amount of discarded plastics ending up in our oceans.
4. Partnerships Enhance Your Work
As people and communities plan their activities for the International Day of Action for Rivers, they should also remember the powerful impact of partnerships.
As a growing company committed to plastics recycling, Lavergne has joined forces with like-minded companies to create some great outcomes.
Working with electronics leader HP, Lavergne has created Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastics for ink cartridges and other products such as the HP Dragonfly, the first laptop made from ocean-bound plastics.
Similarly, Lavergne has been working with Dr Pepper Keurig Canada to drive innovation and bring a closed-loop system to a global scale.
A Great First Step — Protecting Our Rivers
By following these best practices, along with prevention, we can pave the way to a more responsible plastic economy.
Participate in International Day of Action for Rivers — check out www.internationalrivers.org to help take action and support our world’s waterways.
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