Eco-activists and experts from science, business and state bodies discussed how to deal with plastic in nature waters

The seminar "Marine litter is our problem. The search for solutions to minimize plastic pollution of water bodies" was held on May 24 in St. Petersburg. The seminar has brought together experts from different various areas: representatives of Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor), Research Limnology Institute of Russian Academy of Science (RAS), Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, companies Ecocentrum, Tochka Sbora, Fertoing, public organizations and movements Friends of the Baltic, RazDelny Sbor(movement which promote separate waste collection), Musora.Bolshe.Net (public organization which popularize eco-friendly lifestyle), projects NOPLASTICITSFANTASTIC, let's Do it!2018, Clean Vuoksa, etc

The seminar discussed the following issues:
- the problem of litter in the Baltic sea, priorities and actions of HELCOM
- methods and results of the litter research on the beaches
- methods and results of microplastics studies in water bodies
- experience in minimizing the amount of waste and its utilization/recycling
- the role of the government, society and business in the reduction of plastic waste
- cooperation as a basis for solving the problem of plastic waste, marine litter and microplastics pollution

Ludmila Filatova from Department of supervision on the sea of Northwestern Federal District Branch of the Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor) and the HELCOM expert on marine litter spoke about the recommendation of the HELCOM 36/1 - "Regional action plan on marine litter". It says that the reduction of marine litter must be by 2025, compared to 2015, as well as performing a comprehensive assessment of macro-litter on the coast (beach macro-litter) and in the water bodies. This recommendation calls for action to tackle microplastics pollution – identification sources of pollution and the impact on them by legislation, if possible, and upgrading of sewage treatment plants. Cleaning of river banks, collecting floating debris in water areas within the city, collecting floating debris in the waters of ports, cleaning beaches – it is the measures which are implemented at the regional and Federal level in Russia in the field of prevention and elimination of water pollution at the moment.

Daria Mytareva Friends of the Baltic expert on the topic of marine debris and micro-plastic – told about the history of the interest to the issue of microplastics pollution in Russia. She became the first public expert on the microplastics in Russia like a volunteer about 3 years ago. The first who began to study microplastics in Russia was the Institute of Oceanology RAS in Kaliningrad.Then Ecocentrum and Friends of the Baltic took up this issue and created the first Russian guide for consumers. It is a booklet containing a list of cosmetics which have microplastics in the products composition - the so-called "list of shame". Today it is placed in the public domain and people can add information. Friends of the Baltic in cooperation together with Ecocentrum, the Center for Environmental Solutions (Belarus) and the Research Limnology Institute of RAS developed a methodology for monitoring nature water bodies to assess the concentration of microplastics particles in water.

Elizabeth Merinova - coordinator of the Ecocentrum project "More Baltic, less plastic" explained what is microplastics and macrolitter, how much of it enters annually into the water bodies and what is its harm to the environment.
"The main storage of plastic waste is the world ocean, at the same time 80% of marine litter is garbage from the land. So it is important to work not only with the consequences of such pollution, but also with sources. In this regard, the methodology of monitoring marine litter can help with a detailed classification of objects found on the beach - not only by the material from which they are made, but also by their using specific.

Elena Emelyanova – ecospeaker of Musora.Bolshe.Net movement told about strategy Reduce Reuse Recycle and the role of society, business and government in this system. Elena noted that the recycling of plastic is not the solution to the problem of plastic pollution. In fact, you can not endlessly recycle this material. This process called Downcycle-reducing the quality of raw materials with each next stage of processing . Plastic bottle –construction material - polygon – this is a typical scenario of plastic recycling, and polygon is the last stage, it can’t be recycled further. It is necessary to understand that plastic in every case finally will appear on a dump in the end of its lifetime. So the best solution is to reduce the production and use of single use plastic and try to find an alternative.

Participants spoke about cooperation in the field of environmental education, the possibility to solve of solving the problem on the scale of the whole city and the state, the prospects for processing and recycling of existing waste. Also, they discussed how to promote the work of the law on Extended Producer Responsibility, how to build better communication in the government-society-business system on the topic of waste and garbage management,and how to integrate science in this communication.(Please see Resolution of the seminar)

The seminar was held within the project "More Baltic, less plastic".