The time to act against marine pollution is today, March 22 and World Water Day 2017; tomorrow will be too late.
This is the opinion of South African National Bottled Water Association executive director, Charlotte Metcalf, who points to statistics quoted by organisations like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the dangerous levels of marine pollution and who, together with her member bottlers, are striving for responsible corporate citizenship.
The bottled water industry is a relatively small user of PET; estimates put its usage at less than 5%. Please refer to Plastics|SA3 and PETCO4 for specific figures regarding plastic usage and recycling.
World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Acknowledging that World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater, Metcalf nevertheless stresses that marine water resources are under equal threat and highly polluted.
According to National Geographic, pollution is “the introduction of harmful contaminants that are outside the norm for a given ecosystem. Common man-made pollutants that reach the ocean include pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage, plastics, and other solids.”
“Several sources – including the National Ocean Service – say that over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. From plastic bags to pesticides – most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through drains and rivers,” she said.
“As an industry that utilises plastic and glass, the bottled water industry in South Africa is very concerned with the solid rubbish that makes its way to the ocean. Plastic bags, balloons, glass bottles, shoes, packaging material – if not disposed of correctly, almost everything we throw away can reach the sea.
“SANBWA therefore acknowledges, respects and supports all attempts to draw attention to the pollution of the earth’s marine resources but also urges that humans – as individuals, communities, governments, and corporations and other organisations – have a major role to play in curtailing this pollution.
“If we humans dramatically changed our behaviour so that we don’t litter, we recycled as much of our waste as possible and, in our positions of power such as politicians and directors of companies, our took decisions that did not have far-reaching negative consequences for the world’s health (such as dumping hazardous waste, for example) – it would have a significant positive impact on levels of pollution,” she said.
As a responsible corporate citizen, SANBWA is making certain its members play their part in reducing plastic waste, and is able to stand side-by-side with organisations like Greenpeace when they highlight where society is falling short in theirs.
Metcalf explained: “SANBWA was formed in 1997. Its members’ primary concern is the health, safety and pleasure of their consumers. They therefore willingly conform to the extremely stringent safety and quality measures contained in the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard1, which includes environmental stewardship2.
“These environmental stewardship protocols address measures to ensure source sustainability and protection, water usage minimisation, energy efficiency, solid waste minimisation, and support post-consumer recycling initiatives......