A pathway to 85% less Ocean plastic in the Maldives - Is your country next?

An 85% reduction in plastic waste by 2030? That’s a reason to feel hopeful. Our recently published, peer-reviewed study shows the potential for Plastic Drawdown to be effective not only in the Maldives but everywhere. Now, we’re on the lookout for 10 more countries to partner with.

What is 'Plastic Drawdown'?

Plastic Drawdown is a rapid, affordable and user-friendly tool that helps decision-makers create ambitious policies to tackle plastic pollution.

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It's been developed in consultation with the governments of over 20 countries and exists to help them understand their country’s unique plastic waste flows and choose the most effective portfolio of policies to tackle ocean pollution.

To date, Plastic Drawdown has been used to support policy makers in Indonesia, Greece, UK and now, the Maldives.

Why is this study so important?

The study, co-authored with experts from Oxford University, Imperial College London, Eunomia and The Government of the Maldives, shows, in detail, how the Maldives Government used the Plastic Drawdown framework to develop an ambitious Plastic Phase Out Commitment, which was announced at United Nations General Assembly by the Maldives President.

"Plastic Drawdown was critical in building the case for phasing out single-use plastics across the Maldives" … "Common Seas delivered not only solid evidence for what we could achieve, but also practical advice on how to achieve it" A spokesman for the President of the Maldives.

It also shows how this approach is replicable and accessible to all countries, especially to those where ambition to stop plastic pollution is high but a lack of resources and access to baseline data has prevented the development of an effective national strategy.

So, if your country needs answers to these questions, Plastic Drawdown is for you.

  • What are the most prolific and problematic plastics and how will this change over time?
  • How are different plastics getting into the environment and the Ocean?
  • Given current capacity and the resources available, which policies are likely to be most effective?
  • How do we design policies that can be successfully delivered in my country?

Click to here to read the full publication

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How does Plastic Drawdown work?

Plastic Drawdown helps governments identify which plastics to target, where they’re leaking into the environment and – given the resources available – how best to tackle them.

It follows three steps…

Step One:

Mapping and modelling a country’s plastic pollution

Step Two:

Matching a country’s plastic problem with the right solutions

Step Three:

Working with stakeholders to turn strategy into action

More info here or read on to see the outcome of these steps in the Maldives.

Case Study: The Maldives

We were invited to deliver Plastic Drawdown by the President’s Office and worked with three ministries, three island councils and an expert group including stakeholders from waste management, water, sanitation and the private sector to build a holistic picture of plastic waste flows in the Maldives, and the solutions to end Ocean plastic.

Here’s what we found:

Step One – Mapping and modelling a country’s plastic pollution.

  • Without action there will be a 40% increase in plastic waste and a 45% increase in Ocean leakage over the next 10 years.
  • The analysis highlighted key problem plastics and leakage hotspots to build consensus on where to target resources.
  • Of the 28 plastic types we investigated, plastic bottles made by far the biggest contribution to waste.
  • Per capita, tourists generate nearly twice as much plastic waste as Maldivians.
  • Building a shared understanding of the problem established a compelling evidence base for policy making.

Step Two: Matching a country’s plastic problem with the right solutions.

  • Stakeholders used Drawdown to identify five policy scenarios that could reduce plastic leakage by 85% - building hope that this is a problem that can and must be solved.
  • It identified a co-ordinated blend of upstream and downstream interventions including:
    • Banning and taxing single-use plastics.
    • Improvements in drinking water supply to reduce dependence on single use bottles.
    • Enhanced solid waste management and recycling, supported by Extended Producer Responsibility.
    • Better landfill management and enforcement of laws banning waste dumping at sea.

Step Three: Working with stakeholders to turn strategy into action.

  • Following announcement of their Plastic Phase-out Plan at the United Nations General Assembly a range of interventions are being implemented.
  • This includes bans on single use plastic bottles, plates, cutleries, straws, cups, cotton buds, grocery bags and stirrers, which came into force in June 2021.
  • And work with Common Seas to install new water refill infrastructure in the capital Malé.
  • We’re also providing our technical know-how to support the development of Extended Producer Responsibility.
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Our 2022 plans

We’re pleased to announce that Common Seas is supporting the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science by scaling Plastic Drawdown to 10 new countries. Chosen partners will have access to Common Seas’ proven policy, circular economy and modelling expertise, as well as proven tools to help bring about a circular economy for plastics that engage and support businesses, communities and the next generation.

Is this right for you?

If you are committed to addressing plastic pollution in your country, but lack the baseline data, technical skills, or framework needed to develop a holistic policy response then please get in touch.

Why now?

Today many countries lack an effective evidence-based plan to end plastic pollution. In fact, 14 of 20 the world’s most plastic-polluting countries either have no plastic strategy or only have policies that address plastic bags. To enable effective national and international cooperation, we are calling on all countries to develop baselines and action plans, backed by common reporting and monitoring tools.

"To see direct impact from research in such a short time is rare"...“With Plastic Drawdown we have shown that powerful decisions can be made with limited data when there is a robust framework in place to share knowledge” Lucy Woodall, Associate Professor at University of Oxford and Principal Scientist of Nekton.

Plastic Drawdown might be a key piece in the jigsaw for your country…

Get in touch.

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