Break the plastic wave

To stop plastic pollution of the Ocean, change is needed now. Citizens, businesses, public institutions and governments; every level of society must all work together to transform the way we produce and consume to fight plastic pollution and preserve Ocean health.

Plastics, the scourge of the 21st century

8

That's the number of millions of tons of plastic that ends up in the ocean every year.

"Break the plastic wave" is a Surfrider Europe campaign to encourage all stakeholders to take an active role in the fight against plastic pollution. As citizens, we must be aware of the impact of our choices and adopt lifestyles that reduce our waste. Businesses must look towards innovation to transform product design and manufacturing processes to improve end of life and support a circular economy. Local, regional and international governments have a great responsibility to prioritize the fight against plastic and stay strong on advances we have made. We must oppose the Plastic industries' attempts to weaken and reverse legislation that holds producers accountable for their pollution.  


A changing society

Citizens


Know What’s In Your Products: Stop buying products that contain ingredients with intentially added microplastics  

Reuse, Not Single Use: Stop buying single use plastics and choose zero-waste alternatives   

Shop Smart: Support sustainable brands and businesses that actively work to reduce their impact 

Your Voice Matters: Speak to your local representatives and demand measures to reduce plastic waste in your area  

Businesses


Product Innovation: Improve product design to be long-lasting, refillable, reusable and repairable 

Microplastic, Major Problem: Stop adding microplastic ingredients to cosmetic and health care products  

Less Is More: Stop over-packaging and adopt a minimalist philosphy in daily business 

Provide Opportunities, Not Plastic: stop offering single-use plastic products and give consumers zero-waste and bulk food options 

Governements


Circular Economies: employ reuse, refill, and repair to create a close-loop system, minimising the use of resources and the creation of waste. 

Cut Out Microplastics: Ban microplastic ingredients from being added to all products manufactured and sold in Europe. 

Lead The Charge: Take the initiative to adopt, implement, and strongly enforce European plastic laws in your territories.

Cut at source, no exemptions: Regardless of thickness or composition, maintain a strict stance against all single-use plastics in the face of industry lobbying.  

Stop single use plastics !

Surfrider's Environmental Report is irrevocable, 65% of the objects collected during the Ocean Initiatives are single-use objects.

Plastic bottles and bags, cigarette butts, cotton buds, all products that we use once for a few minutes before throwing it away. Once in nature, these plastic products never fully disappear, but degrade into plastic micro-particles after several hundred years in the ocean. Often mistaken for food, they are ingested by plankton, seabirds and marine mammals and are therefore present in every level of the food chain. 

Manufacturers must assume their responsibility and propose sustainable alternatives. 

Ecology should not be a marketing tool to reassure the consumer and sell more products. It should be an integral part company values to truly limit their impact on the environment. There are many things that manufacturers can do to limit plastic pollution: rethink the design, production methods and distribution of their products to reduce the use of plastics throughout the value chain, replace single-use plastic products with reusable and sustainable alternatives, eliminate over-packaging and single-use plastic products. 


International policies and institutions are also involved  

Policies must establish the legislative framework necessary for an ecological transition. They must adopt binding measures adapted to the current ecological emergency. Producers must not be allowed to operate above the law and must be forced to change their operation models to adopt a circular economy logic based, above all, on the economy of raw materials.  

Public authorities must also ensure that this ecological transition is implemented by integrating waste reduction into all their public policies and by setting an example through programs to eliminate single-use plastic in public administrations and events. 

As a citizen  

We have the opportunity to influence politicc and industry through the power of our votes, and our voices, and by where and how we choose to invest our money. 

For example, we can choose to consume less by investing in long lasting, locally sourced products. We can buy in bulk to limit packaging, read label information to avoid plastic ingredients, and refuse using single-use items.  

Microplastics: the invisible pollution of the Ocean

Measuring less than five millimetres, microplastics are found in the marine environment, but also in the air and in marine fauna. There are two types of microplastics: 

- Microplastics intentionally added to the product. For example, in cosmetics, microbeads added to exfoliating gels or dentifrice. 

- Microplastics created by the degradation of products such as larger plastic pieces, textile fibres or car tires, to name a few. 

European Union mobilises against microplastics

In recent years, studies conducted by the scientific community have produced highly alarming data on the omipresence of microplastics in the Ocean, rivers, and within most marine species. The United Nations declared in 2017 that the Ocean contains between 15 and 51 billion particles, 500 times more than the number of stars in the galaxy.

When the Plastics Strategy was publishedin 2018, the European Union committed to a ban on intentionally added microplastic ingredients in certain types of products (cosmetics and personal care products, detergents, cleaning products, paints, products used in the oil and gas industry, and agricultural fertilisers).

Industrialists must adhere to the requirements of this legislation to stop the intentional addition of microplastics to their products. 

As citizens, how can we avoid them?

'Clean' packaging and green slogans do not guarantee a product without microplastics. These terms are not regulated and fall under the term "Greenwashing", a technique used by manufacturers to make consumers think that their product is more eco-friendly than it actually is by using color and imagery. 

Here are some clues to spot them in your future purchases: First, avoid products with formulas with ingredients ending in -one or -oxane, large letters such as PPG and PEG, poly- and -cellulose. Secondly, you can rely on products with the Slow Cosmetics label, named after the same association that is campaigning for a total ban on plastics in cosmetics. Also, applications such as Beat the microbead help you to see through the marketing and get to the core of what you are buying. 

Beware of false good solutions !

Faced with growing public awareness on the damage linked to plastic pollution, many industries are trying to spin a different story by prompoting new 'solutions' that claim to be eco-responsible, biodegradable or bio-sourced, but what is the truth behind these claims?

3, 2, 1 .....

Ready for the test?