Magazine Reports On Bermuda Plastics Summit

August 14, 2019

An eight-deck, 400-foot icebreaker is a rare enough sight in Bermuda’s waters. An icebreaker carrying a party of leading American plastics industry executives and environmental activists is an even rarer one.

But when the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s vessel Resolute called in Bermuda in May, she took on just such a seemingly mismatched complement of passengers.

The Arctic expedition ship had been chartered by American Dave Ford, whose company SoulBuffalo leads ecological expeditions and conferences for Fortune 500 companies.

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Mr. Ford’s Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit held aboard the Resolute was an attempt to encourage industrialists manufacturers and environmentalists to find common ground on the issue of oceanic plastic pollution.

A SoulBuffalo announcement for the May 17–21 seagoing conference read: “Summit participants include global plastics supply chain executives, leading NGOs, scientists and innovators who will circumnavigate Bermuda and experience the ocean plastics crisis firsthand, both onshore and directly in the Sargasso Sea, home to the North Atlantic Gyre.”

There are five major ocean gyres around the world including the one off Bermuda. Gyres are large systems of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by Earth’s rotation.

The movement of the world’s major ocean gyres helps to drive what are known as the “ocean conveyor belts” which circulate seawater around the entire planet.

St. George's Bermuda, May 17 2019-3013

In an in-depth report on the inaugural Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit recently published by the online edition of Outside magazine, contributing editor Rowan Jacobsen said the minute plastic particles he came across on Bermuda’s seemingly pristine beaches are indicative of the global scale of the pollution problem.

“At first glance, Long Bay Beach looks suspiciously like paradise. The golden sand sparkles. The waves glitter. Bermuda is a wealthy island that regularly cleans up its shoreline. Sure, the odd flip-flop is poking out of the wrack, but rather than any sort of environmental angst, I feel a strong desire to work on my tan …

“At first all I see is sand and seaweed. But then, at the high-tide line, something blue catches my eye. Then something pink. I kneel to get a better look, and—impossible—the shell bits resolve themselves into a confetti of colors. Half the flecks I thought were pieces of shell are actually bleached plastic.

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“The problem with plastic is that it never rots, never goes away. But contrary to popular misconception, [it] doesn’t form floating islands of trash. It disintegrates. … No force on earth is going to get that plastic [now in the oceans] out. The best we can do is prevent more from going in.”

One study has estimated there are more than five trillion pieces of plastic of various sizes littering the world’s oceans. Many plastics are toxic to both marine life and humans. Plankton, fish, and ultimately people are ingesting carcinogens and chemicals used to manufacture certain kinds of plastics through the food chain. Eating fish that contain these toxins can cause an increase in cancer, immune disorders and birth defects in humans.

Participants in the Bermuda-based collaborative summit included leading American companies such as Procter and Gamble, Dow Chemical along with with environmental organisations like National Geographic, the World Wildlife Fund, Ocean Conservancy, 5Gyres and Parley for the Oceans.

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Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director at Dow, said of the chemical company’s decision to take part: “The two biggest sustainability issues we’re working on at Dow are marine debris and sustainable materials management.

“We were early supporters of the Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit because it takes collaboration between industry, NGOs and organisations that invest in infrastructure to solve the waste management crisis. Gathering at sea off Bermuda to experience the problem first-hand is critical to accelerating collaboration and solutions.”

You can read the article. entitled An Ocean Plastics Field Trip for Corporate Executives, here

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Category: All, Environment