Solutions to the crisis of plastic affecting the health of our oceans were discussed at the first ever Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summit in Hong Kong on Monday.
The event, held in the Volvo Pavilion, at the Hong Kong Race Village, Kai Tak Runway Park, brought together a wide range of individuals with innovative projects and approaches to help address the plastic crisis affecting our seas.
Daisy Lo, assistant director of environmental protection, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, pledged to explore ways to reduce plastic at source, revealed plans for a $HK20 million fund for upgrading plastic recycling facilities and talked of Government efforts to clean up the marine environment.
Dr Ivone Mirpuri, representing the Mirpuri Foundation, delivered a speech about the potentially harmful effects of plastic on human health.
"We are the most pollution generation in history, plastic is everywhere," she explained. "We live in the Plastic Age – and it's only getting worse. We're now seeing micro plastics turn into nano plastics, and these small doses over time can have a big impact on our health."
Other speakers at the event included Sam Barratt, Chief of Public Advocacy & Communications, United Nations Environment; Christoffer Wahlborg, Business Manager Automotive, Stena Recycling AB; Safia Qureshi, The Cup Club; and Patrick Yeung, Project Manager Oceans Conservation, WWF.
Ellie Cottrell, a 12th Grade student in Hong Kong, gave an impassioned presentation on the impacts plastics are having on waters around Hong Kong.
The summit, part of the Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme, also heard how microplastic particles have been found in the oceans close to Antarctica.
The new data came from analysis of water samples, gathered at points during the Leg 2, between Lisbon and Cape Town and Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne.
Anne-Cecile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader for the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “Bringing together key stakeholders with a common purpose to stop our Oceans being contaminated by plastic pollution in Hong Kong was truly inspiring.
“Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summits provides a platform from which innovative solutions to this global crisis can be presented and we hope to leave a lasting legacy that helps to drive the movement forward in Hong Kong and more generally across Asia.”
Dr. Sören Gutekunst presented the results during the Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summit, held during the event’s Hong Kong stopover.
“This new information confirms the results we had previously collected from European waters and shows that there are consistently high levels of micro plastic in the ocean and we are also seeing low levels of microplastics in waters close to the Antarctic,” said Gutekunst, who works at GEOMAR, an ocean research institute in Kiel, Germany.
“The Turn the Tide on Plastic race team is collecting extremely valuable scientific data that will help us gain a clearer picture of the amount of microplastics in our oceans.”
Microplastic has the potential to enter the food chain, in species such as tuna and mackerel, and can cause harm to humans, too. It consists of small particles of plastic, often invisible to the naked eye and less than 5mm.
Race Team AkzoNobel was announced as the second team to use the on-board data gathering equipment to measure water quality and composition, as well as microplastics in some of the world’s remotest oceans.
Volvo Cars is funding the Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme by donating €100 from the first 3,000 sales of the new V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race edition vehicle.
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