By Rob Kaplan, Forbes.com
Ocean plastic costs. It costs the earth and it costs us money. In economic terms, plastic does $13 billion in damage to marine ecosystems annually. As much as 95% of the value of plastic packaging -- worth $80 to $120 billion annually -- is lost to the economy after the first-use cycle. It’s a massive problem.
In the past, short-term solutions have targeted symptoms rather than the cause. Efforts to raise consumer awareness of single use plastics like straws, while hugely effective in raising awareness and becoming part of the popular zeitgeist, do little to address the enormity of the ocean plastic problem -- as, fortunately, these kinds of single use plastics represent less than 1% of ocean plastic.
Ocean plastic is a systems problem that demands a comprehensive, systems solution. Of the estimated trillions of development finance dollars spent annually, in 2012, less than .5% of it went to solid waste management. So how do we solve the problem -- and where will we get the resources to do it?