The event will feature short films on plastic pollution and a panel discussion on the critical need for solutions. Leading the discussion will be Dianna Cohen, an artist and co-founder/CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition and Alvaro Arpa, an artist and PPC ambassador. Panelists include Jane Muncke, Managing Director and Chief Scientific Officer for Food Packaging Forum; Laia Romero, oceanographer and Director of Operations of isardSAT; Gemma Ponsa Salvador, an entrepreneur and founder of Mother Organic Cold Pressed Juices; Anna Sánchez, a marine geoscientist; and François Van Den Abeele, CEO of Sea2See eyewear.
The time is now to talk about plastic pollution says Arpa. "There's great need for awareness about plastic pollution, part of the apocalyptical mess that is taking place on the planet. It's David against 5,000 Goliaths."
Plastic pollution has increased in recent years, says Romero, who works on satellite missions that observe the earth from space. “Plastic is found everywhere in the marine ecosystem, and its presence has significantly increased over the last decades,” she explains. “Anthropogenic litter can represent up to 95 percent of the waste accumulated at sea... To tackle this issue, transborder and interdisciplinary scientific collaboration is key.”
Munke, who holds a doctorate degree in environmental toxicology, reflects on the common misconceptions about plastic pollution, the first being that bioplastics will solve the problem. “Bioplastics are sometimes biodegradable (but not all of them are), however most bioplastics will not degrade in the marine environment—they only break down in industrial composting facilities," she says.
Plastic pollution a global problem, explains Munke. "Even the most remote parts of the world are affected by plastics pollution—and when we eat fish and seafood, so are humans."
Both Romero and Munke point to the critical need for more scientific research on plastic pollution. “While research on marine litter is growing, it is widely accepted that there are relevant knowledge gaps regarding the fate of plastic in our oceans,” says Romero. “Therefore, its detrimental impact on the environment and human life are still not fully known.”
What can readers do about plastic pollution? Munke says the first step is to educate oneself about the issue and then work together toward solutions. Gemma Ponsa Salvador, who packages her juices in glass bottles, recommends choosing sustainable food packaging whenever possible. Dianna Cohen calls for changes on multiple levels, from individual consumers to communities to businesses and government policy.
We all must refuse single-use plastic, says Cohen: "Debemos rechazar el plástico desechable cada dia."