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There’s competition for your fish in the world’s oceans

You won't like this column. Read it anyway.

The recent (social) media outcry over our plastic problem is bearing the first fruits. The number of countries or regional and municipal governments committing or considering to a ban of single-use plastics is growing.

Just to name one example, the EU released draft plan at the end of May in an attempt to reduce marine litter, with one official calling plastic waste an “undeniably” big issue.

It’s about time. We’re drowning in a sea of plastic and if we don’t take action now the damage to our planet’s eco-system will be irreversible.

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According to digital marketing agency Mediaworks, which recently teamed up with waste management experts Reconomy to promote the fight against plastic, there are still no signs of slowing down the pollution of our oceans.

Around the world, we are producing over 300 million metric tons of plastic each year due to its cheapness and versatility, especially when it comes to packaging. In 2015 alone, 322 million metric tons of plastic were produced, which would equal the same weight as 900 Empire State Buildings.

It’s estimated that around 50 percent of the plastic we use is only used once and then disposed of. Around 8 million metric tons of this ends up being dumped into our oceans every single year.

Around 20 percent of this come from offsite sites and ships, the rest comes from heavy winds blowing rubbish into the sea and litter from the beaches -- and sometimes there is illegal dumping.

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Research shows that plastic usually gathers where the ocean current meets, forming plastic islands that sea creatures sometimes use as transportation that could move them far away from their usual habitat.

Since plastic contains chemicals and soaks up existing toxins from the air, this can have an impact on not only sea creatures, but a knock-on effect on humans too. After awhile, the plastic in the sea will release chemicals and fish in the ocean will potentially inhale them – resulting in a contaminated food supply chain.

I’m sure the seafood industry has realized by now that it will be among the food sectors to suffer most from this toxic mix. Or have we?

My colleague Rachel Mutter pointed out in one of her columns earlier this year that all but a few have decided to not rally and cry out for something to be done to finally solve the issue.

I have to fall in line with her and tell you: I simply don’t get it.

Everyone in the seafood industry is heavily reliant on the health of the world’s ocean so what’s the reason for the industry’s lack of willingness to take on plastic and drive some real change?

Are short-term profits more important than the future of the planet, or allowing future generations an opportunity to enjoy oceans not clogged with plastic? Put in simple terms of self-interest, we have to realize that plastic pollution, if not addressed, could take the wild-harvest seafood industry out of business.

For Mediaworks, the biggest issue is that we’ve grown to become so dependent upon plastic to the point where “it has adapted itself into our everyday lives.” That goes particularly for food packaging.

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But reversing the trend and reducing plastic pollution isn’t impossible. Consumers are increasingly aware but their efforts are obviously very limited.

The big push will have to come from companies and industries such as ours.

If you’re a business, the most common and effective way to reduce plastic pollution is to have a waste management service in place that can help you reduce and track the changes your business makes when it comes to waste.

However, there are more methods. Lobby with politicians to actually impose those bans on single-use plastic. Ask yourself if the use of plastics in your packaging is really necessary of if an alternative material could be used.

Recycling can make a huge impact and so does the reduction of bathroom or cleaning essentials that use microbeads.

Finally make commitments, tell IntraFish about them and most importantly keep them. Become a pioneer, a campaigner for a plastics-free world and get others to follow you.

Believe me, it's in your company's interest just as much as it is in everyone's who doesn't have the capacity to make a change for the better.

Comments? Email me at elisabeth.fischer@intrafish.com

Twitter: EF_IntraFish

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