Investors also have a role to play in limiting plastics in the oceans

(BFM Bourse) – Next week, Wednesday June 8, the United Nations Day for the Oceans will be a good opportunity to take a closer look at this vital resource – the protection of which is also wise from the point of view of investors. , explains the management company DWS.

World day of this, world day of that, hard to find a single day in the year that is not used by some group to promote one cause or another. But this June 8 the inhabitants of the planet are strongly invited to take an interest in the oceans, on the initiative of the United Nations. A day that certainly deserves more attention than any other “International Day”, believes Murray Birt, senior strategist in charge of ESG issues at DWS insofar as our collective survival depends on it!

The oceans are central to the health and functioning of the world, says the specialist. And here’s why: Oceans cover 70% of our planet (but 91% of marine life has yet to be categorized). Over 3.3 billion people depend on the oceans for much of their daily protein needs. The oceans absorb -at least- a quarter of our CO2 emissions. And yet, they are mistreated, in many ways.

To mention just one of the many threats to the oceans, which are at the very origin of life on earth, the strategist points to their use as a gigantic waste disposal site. And in particular by a specific type of waste: plastic, which, under the effect of salt water, is transformed into micro-plastic. Each year, up to 12 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the oceans, the equivalent of one garbage truck per minute, DWS points out. Plastic has been found in the Arctic and in the deepest parts of the ocean. Every week, we gobble up a credit card’s worth of micro-plastics with our food, which probably affects our health. Microplastics further act as a sponge for toxic chemicals like oxybenzone (UV blocking sunscreen) – which can kill plankton.

“All of this is depressing,” admits the specialist, who holds a Murray Birt master’s degree in “Environmental Change and Management” from the University of Oxford and also a graduate of the universities of Uppsala and Calgary. A leading group of experts, however, has paved the way to reducing the plastic pollution dumped into the oceans by 80% each year.

Scenarios for reducing ocean plastic pollution

The graph shows the expected levels of plastic dumping into the ocean over time under different scenarios. The graph shows that although both the upstream (Reduce and Substitute) and downstream (Collection and Disposal and Recycling scenarios) scenarios reduce annual spill rates relative to the status quo, they fail to reduce spills below 2016 levels. Only the integrated upstream and downstream scenario (system change scenario) can significantly reduce spill levels.

Among the main efforts needed to do so, the “Breaking The Plastic Waves” initiative mentions: • Reducing the increase in the use of plastics • Reducing microplastics from tire dust, textiles, granules and products hygiene and cosmetics. • Reduce pollution from fishing and shipping • Replace plastics with paper and compostable materials • Reduce exports of plastic waste • Redesign products and packaging to increase the recyclability of plastics • Expand waste collection waste in middle and low income countries • Doubling mechanical recycling • Converting some plastic waste into other plastics.

These measures could reduce carbon emissions by 25%, create 700,000 jobs … and create investment opportunities in companies that offer solutions, notes DWS.

“The world is starting to wake up: governments have agreed to start negotiating a binding legal treaty to end plastic pollution, while more than a thousand businesses and governments (representing 20% ​​of plastic use plastic) reduce, redesign and replace their use of plastic”, notes the specialist. Investors have an important role to play in encouraging more plastic container and packaging companies to take action…

Guillaume Bayre – ©2022 BFM Bourse

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