The inspiration behind this World Oceans Day? Plastic pollution. A set of themes at the very core of current international concerns, the United Nations is honouring it this #WorldOceansDay. The Race for Water Odyssey teams, currently in Chile, are rallying together for their cause.
Today, 8 June, plastic pollution has been set as the main theme for this World Oceans Day. This decision by the United Nations aims to draw the attention of the widest possible audience to the devastating effects of this large-scale pollution, as well as encourage the implementation of practical solutions. These two areas of focus are something that the Race for Water Foundation has been defending for over ten years. The nub of its missions include participation in numerous scientific studies, campaigns to raise awareness and the promotion of sustainable technological solutions to recover plastic waste on land and prevent it from reaching the oceans. This vast programme is being rolled out during a five-year odyssey around the world that began in France in April 2017. Together with the teams from the Race for Water Odyssey 2017-2021, currently in Chile, join the movement thanks to #WorldOceansDay. Together, we have the ability to make our voices heard in order to implement tomorrow’s solutions.
Our oceans, our planet’s equilibrium
The blue planet is a miracle, which has still never been observed elsewhere in the universe. The source of life on earth, the oceans are the guardians of today’s biodiversity and regulators of the global climate. Crucial to the overall operation of our planet, the links between the land and the seas are the result of a fine balance that is as subtle as it is extraordinary. However, the latter is having to face up to a threat that is even greater than it is recent: plastic pollution.
Let’s transform a global problem into more lasting solutions
Floating plastic bags, litter from straws or invisible and harmful microplastics, whether they are at the centre of the oceans, in the sand on our beaches or even in the stomach of marine mammals, have a major impact on every environment. “For over a year, we have been criss-crossing the seas and meeting the populations dotted along the coast and on islands, who are feeling the full force of plastic pollution. Very often, the latter are powerless in the face of the sheer scale of this disaster in terms of both ecology and health. Our aim is to understand the local issues and assist with putting in place an innovative economic, social and environmental model via the use of a sustainable technological solution, enabling plastic waste to be converted into energy. The income obtained through the sale of this energy enables collectors of rubbish to be paid, thus encouraging plastic waste to be collected on land, before it reaches the water. A genuine complement to recycling solutions, these compact and containerised recovery units can be speedily implemented right up close to populations, thus limiting problems related to transport and logistics. In short, the high-temperature pyrolysis process used for energy conversion enables mixed plastics to be processed, facilitating their collection still further. In this way, we hope that not one single type of plastic waste is left littering the countryside on the pretext that it cannot be recycled or converted,” explains Marco Simeoni, President of the Race for Water Foundation.
An ambassador vessel and a harbinger of hope
Making full use of a truly iconic vessel, the Race for Water Odyssey teams have gone out to meet with whole populations in a bid to raise awareness about the issue with plastics, as well as offer them suitable technological solutions. “Our atypical vessel, powered by a mix of renewable energies, encourages people to notice us so we can then exchange ideas with the widest possible audience. During our last stopover in Peru, we met business leaders, political decision-makers as well as local NGOs and we’re in the process of putting together a team aimed at implementing a project that demonstrates our value chain for plastic waste, in an area where local populations need it most,” explains Marco Simeoni.
When the vessel makes landfall in Valparaiso, Chile, on 9 June, the Race for Water teams are once again rallying together, keen to get out and meet up with this new population face to face in order to understand where they’re at with this issue so together we can think about the solutions that need to be put in place, whether it be as a consumer, a government or a manufacturer. “The very recent law prohibiting the use of plastic bags gives us hope that things are heading in the right direction!” concludes the President of the Foundation.