How to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans

Plastic waste in the oceans is already at an alarming stage. We are often presented with a view of fish whose guts are plastic waste. The amount of plastic produced in the world reaches 300 million tons. Some can not be recycled and eventually empties into the sea. (Boucher and Friot, 2017)

Quoted from Statista, the largest contributor of plastic waste in the world is China (3.53 million metric tons), followed by Indonesia in second place (1.29 million metric tons). Meanwhile, the oceans that are the concentration of marine debris include the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean (Cozar et al 2014).

reduce plastic pollution in the oceans
How to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans

The pressure to reduce this plastic waste is getting greater and more coming from environmental communities around the world. They regret that there is no innovation in environmentally friendly packaging products.

The world retail market also still uses conventional packaging because it is considered cheaper than biodegradable packaging. As a result, the growing community of environmentalists will make a bigger movement to pressure global retailers to use environmentally friendly products.

Andreas van Giezen in 2019 conducted research on Alternative logistics chains to accommodate plastic waste recycling. The aim is to find a middle ground between the economy and the environment that is socially acceptable.

There are three ports in the world that are considered to have a significant influence on the flow of plastic waste recycling, namely the ports of San Francisco in America, Esbjerg in Denmark and Tanjung Priok in Indonesia. The reason for choosing the three ports is because they accommodate the concentration of marine debris in the world. Of course, each port has a different treatment.

Scenario 1: San Francisco Harbor

This first method considers cost optimization. The thing that increases the cost is the cost of sorting the waste. So in this scenario, the process will be nullified. Garbage must be sorted by waste buyers themselves.

This scenario goes through only three processes. Starting from collecting marine debris, then transporting it by tanker for 2000 km to the port. After that, the waste is collected and transported to the storage location.

Scenario 2: Port of Esbjerg

This scenario tries to put forward the cost and social impact factors together. This is different from scenario 1 where the waste is directly transported to the irrigation site. In this scenario, the waste that is imported from the ocean to the port is estimated to have a distance of 17,000 km. This is the farthest distance compared to scenarios 1 and 3

Marine debris is sorted in the form of nets, ropes and plastics. Plastic waste is transported to the glass production site, while fishing nets and ropes are transported to the storage location.

Scenario 3: Tanjung Priok Port

In the third scenario, the social impact is very important. Indonesia is a developing country that still needs a lot of jobs. With this scenario, a sustainable field of work from recycling plastic waste will be created.

Plastic waste from the sea will be transported to the Tanjung Priok port. At the port, the garbage is separated by local workers using their hands with 8 hours working hours as much as 3 shifts. The separated waste is in the form of nets, ropes and plastics.

Each type of waste is distributed by several different industries. The junk and rope litter is sent to the sock and carpet production. Non-black plastic waste is recycled into glass, while black waste is sold.


In terms of environmental impact, scenario 1 has the least environmental impact, because it has the smallest distance as well. This will minimize carbon dioxide emissions from transportation. however, scenario 1 has the smallest economic value and does not contribute to job creation.

scenario 2 gave the greatest environmental impact due to the long transportation distance but it was still better in terms of economic and social than scenario 1. Meanwhile, Skeanio 3 had the best economic impact and had the potential to create jobs for Indonesia. 

Also read: Biggest ways to reduce carbon footprint in the city

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