Plastic soup starts on land
Plastic accumulates in the oceans: the plastic soup. Almost all of that plastic comes from land, especially plastic pollution from disposable packaging that has ended up on the streets or in nature, or foam and foil from construction sites.
Plastic litter ends up in the rivers, seas and oceans. You can find it everywhere, from high in the mountains to the deepest sea troughs. In the oceans, only 1% floats; the rest slowly sinks to the bottom. Water becomes Plastic Soup.
Plastic is not disappearing
An enormous amount - and increasingly more - of plastic is produced. Hundreds of millions of tons every year. It is very suitable and very cheap packaging material. So cheap that the packaging material has no value and is not handled with care. But once in nature it does not disappear, it only breaks down into ever smaller pieces and eventually into microplastics and nanoplastics, invisible small pieces that enter the body.
Almost all seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, fish and turtles get entangled in it and die en masse. Nanoplastics are even found in wombs of pregnant women.
The way plastic is produced and used now, some of it will always end up in nature, in the rivers, seas and oceans. This is how we plasticize the world.
This is the plastic paradox: more and more mass production of cheap plastic for impulse purchases, while the material is unsuitable for impulsive behavior. Throwing it away carelessly has extremely harmful and costly consequences on a global scale.
The plastic soup solution: tackling the source
Awareness is good, buying less plastic-wrapped items and responsible discarding behavior is too. Clean-up campaigns also help reduce plastic pollution to some extent. But this is far from compensating for the continuing increase in plastic litter.
Recycling does not offer a solution either. This involves collected waste, while the litter is not collected. Incidentally, much recycled plastic waste shipped to developing countries still ends up in the environment there.
The only solution is to tackle it at the source: reduce single-use plastics, i.e. ensure change by manufacturers of products that cause plastic litter.
Polluting companies responsible
But these companies usually do not consider themselves responsible. They blame consumers and are not prepared to do more than the law requires.
Mars, for example. We believe that if discarded Mars wrappers are strewn everywhere in nature, Mars cannot ignore its responsibility. If Mars does nothing about it, it remains a polluting company. And it sins against its own principle of Responsibility. The same goes for many other companies.
Rules and social pressure
We hold companies responsible for their (plastic) litter. And we believe that policy makers should ensure better regulation, such as deposit sysems that lead to recycling, extra taxes on products that cause pollution ("True pricing") and bans on very harmful products. This requires social pressure.
The Plastic Soup Surfer Approach
1 Agenda setting
We bring attention to the problem of plastic pollution and its causes. We do this through spectacular surf and sup campaigns, such as the North Sea crossing or the sup trip across the Rhine. For example, we put the need for deposits on plastic bottles and cans on the map. We put pressure on polluting companies and politicians. We write motions that lead to better legislation (deposit).
We activate people to participate, such as elementary school students who ask to separate waste in the classroom. Or by asking people to send us pictures of litter like Knetterballen and Mars or AntaFlu wrappers through our app. Or by partnering with our community, like the Plastic Avengers. With more people, photos and data, we create more pressure and more mass, which companies and politicians are sensitive to.
In our Plastic Talkshows, we engage with scientists, activists, politicians and business people to find new ways and strategies to fight the plastic soup.
In order to achieve change, we are going to talk to all parties. With Mars, with shopkeepers who sell polluting products, with manufacturers of sweets in plastic wrappers. With the packaging industry. We show them how much pollution their products cause. We remind them of their responsibility. If necessary, we use data or legal means.
For us it's always about the breakthrough: changing the system and the behavior of companies. Deposits on plastic bottles and cans, separating waste, less packaging, biodegradable packaging.
By appealing actions, cooperation, purposefulness, tact, creativity, flexibility and perseverance much has been achieved so far and we will continue to force new breakthroughs.