Marine pollution expert focus on waste management at conference

Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor College of Engineering at the University of Georgia was a key speaker at the recently held African Marine Waste Network Conference in Port Elizabeth. Her visit to South Africa was sponsored by the US Embassy. Jenna’s focus is on waste management on land thereby preventing waste entering the ocean and she focuses on people as part of the solution. After the conference Jenna visited various parts of South Africa including Hermanus and Gansbaai. Jenna joined the Dyer Island Conservation Trust team with a visit to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary.

 “The team had an opportunity to showcase the fishing line bin project and our marine pollution efforts, and together with the International Marine Volunteers Jenna helped collect 42kgs of waste off one of our nearby beaches,” said Trust founder Wilfred Chivell.

Jenna recently co-authored a new publication quantifying all the plastic that has been produced since 1950.

In essence of the 9 billion tons of plastic produced since 1950, the study tracked the global manufacture and distribution of plastics since they became widespread after World War II and found that only 2 billion tons of that plastic is still in use while the other seven billion tons is now garbage on land or in the ocean.

Pinkey Ngewu of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust recently participated in the African Marine Waste Network Conference, arranged by Tony Ribbink of the Sustainable Sea Trust (SST). Attended by people from all over the world, this was a platform for sharing know-ledge and ideas, and setting a way forward  for waste management in Africa.  The event started with the launch of  Boaz - an educational boat that will sail the ocean to bring about awareness regarding plastic pollution in our oceans. A partnership was signed between SST, Boaz and renowned marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue.  Mission Blue founded the Hope Spots around the world including six in South Africa and in particular the Cape Hope Spot covering the Overstrand region.  Sylvia  was the opening speaker and her key messages included the fact that: there is no waste in nature” and “while plastic may be considered a pro-blem”, she said, “It is what we do with it when we are through with it that matters.”

South Africa is at the forefront of leading the changes and it was revealed that a technologically advanced plastic material designed to dissolve in water rapidly once exposed, is under development. This new plastic material for use in plastic bags would begin in 2018 and would be used initially by Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths.

Partners in fighting marine pollution at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS). From left Brenda du Toit (PR, Marine Dynamics), Martin Matlebyane (Environ-ment, Science and Technology Specialist, Embassy of the United States of America), Amy Bell Mulaudzi (Public Affairs Specialist United States Consulate General, Cape Town), Tony Ribbink (Sustainable Seas Trust), Jenna Jambeck (Associate Professor College of Engineering University of Georgia), Wilfred Chivell (CEO Marine Dynamics / Dyer Island Conservation Trust).
Brenda du Toit (DICT), Pinkey Ngewu (DICT) and Dr Sylvia Earle (Mission Blue) after the Marine Pollution Conference.