Nachgefragt bei Jo Ruxton von der Plastic Ocean Foundation. Die preisgekrönte Doku über das globale Plastikmüll Problem.

Plastic Ocean Foundation - Copyright by David Jones

Jedes Jahr landen mehr als 8 Millionen Tonnen Plastik in unseren Weltmeeren. Europa verschifft jedes Jahr tonnenweise Altplastik nach China, davon hat Deutschland im vergangenen Jahr allein 560.000 Tonnen Plastikmüll verschifft. (Quelle: Ist das die Lösung?

Wir haben mit der Co-Founderin der "Plastic Ocean Foundation" – Jo Ruxton gesprochen. Du erfährst warum man das Meer nicht einfach so vom Plastikmüll befreien kann, welche Rolle Plankton in der ganzen Diskussion spielt und welche Maßnahmen du selber sofort umsetzen kannst. Anschauen kannst du die Doku in voller länge übrigens auf Netflix.

Die preisgekrönte Doku über das globale Plastikmüllproblem. „A Plastic Ocean“ könnte der wichtigste Film des Jahres werden".

What was your intention/the idea behind plastic oceans and what are the biggest differences between other organizations they fight against the plastic problem? 

Jo-Ruxton-Plastic-Oceans-credits-Alastair-ScarlettMy intention making the film was to raise awareness in the most effective way. Humans are very visual animals and not all can grasp the extent of the problem by listening to information and imagining the reality. The film has some very hard-hitting sequences and the images are very powerful. We are the only organisation to make a full feature-length documentary giving the global extent of the problem. We consider this to be the first tool in our education programme.

Some organizations are more focused on removing plastic and pull it out of the ocean. What do you think about the two different ways?

It is not possible now to remove plastic from the oceans because up to 70% has already sunk to the sea floor. The extend of the coverage, the depth of the oceans and the cost of even putting a single submersible down makes it unfeasible to consider. Most plastic that has been in the ocean for a length of time becomes brittle and it fragments into time pieces that are mixed in with the plankton, which is the base of the food chain. Removing it would remove this life-giving element that not only provides food, but the photo-plankton provides more than half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs most of our CO2.  Beat and river-side cleaning will prevent larger items from reaching the oceans but really the problem needs to be tackled at source. I compare it to sticking a hosepipe through the window and asking people to mop up the water. They will just keep mopping until someone turns off the hosepipe!

Can you tell us some eye-opening facts why plastic is so dangerous for our planet?

We currently manufacture 320 million tonnes of plastic every year, half is for single use and 8 million tonnes is estimated to end up in our oceans - every year!  in 1961, global production was 8 million tonnes. If we continue on the path we are heading along, we could be looking at 320 million tonnes entering our oceans each year in 50 years time. It is already tipping point, the oceans and the life within them will not be able to function if we allow this to happen.

Plastic attracts toxic chemicals like a magnet from the day it enters the oceans. These come from decades of agricultural and industrial run off that had been allowed to enter our water courses and into the oceans. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, auto-immune disease, cognitive and behavioural disorders, infertility and endocrine disruption. As more and more plastic is consumed, these chemical are released form the plastic and are stored in the fatty tissues of the animals that consume it and they intensify as they travel up the food chain. Top predators end up with the most concentrated doses and along with sharks, dolphins billfish etc. we humans are top predators.

Is it possible to clean the ocean from all the plastic waste? Perhaps you can remove big plastic bottles but what's with all the micro plastic?

Hopefully I answered this one with Q.2

What do you think is a possible way to solve the plastic problem world wide?

Awareness is key. People need to understand that plastic was never designed to be disposable, it is indestructible, it defies nature, it cannot be thrown away because with plastic there is now ‘away’!  One people begin to realise this, the stupidity of manufacturing plastic items for ‘single-use’ becomes very clear and people begin to make changes to their own behaviour. Legislation can help too for example, in the UK, charging 5 pence for a carrier bag brought plastic bag use down by 90% in the first year.

People need to understand that plastic cannot be recycled more than a few times, it loses quality each time it goes through the process, so recycling plastic is NOT the answer, it is just a way to slow the inevitable disposal. Replace, reduce, re-use, re-think, re-design … all of these options must be considered before recycling, which really is a last resort. Plastic can be turned into fuel but that does not mean we should continue along the path we are going because creating more fuel to be burned already harms the planet. But as a remedial step, perhaps we can clear up the mess we have made as we search for cleaner energy. 

What part are the big companies playing in this plastic game. For example CocaCola, Nestle … 

The big companies are starting to raise that people want alternatives. At the same time they continue to flood the market with single-use plastic items.  Demand for their products will affect production, people will chose alternatives and as demand falls the companies will need to take more notice. Right now it just seems to be talk - but the talk is becoming louder...

What is the biggest challenge for your organization and what are your plans for the future?

Our biggest challenge has always been fundraising, with the film it was 2 years of fundraising before we even began the filming, and now we have ambitions plans but core costs need to be covered. Over the past 8 - 9 years we have experienced the problem around the world, worked with scientists in the field and in the universities, worked with and discussed solutions with various companies and have gained so much knowledge that needs to be shared. But turning that knowledge into funding is the hardest part!

Can you tell us 5 easy and useful tips how to ban plastic from our daily life?

  • Bring our own re-fillabe water bottle and take your own cup to coffee shops

  • Bring your own shopping bags

  • Refuse straws

  • Don’t release helium balloons

  • Use solid soap and crystal deodorant

  • Buy butter wrapped in are instead of in a new plastic dish each time you shop

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