Ocean Conservancy has released a statement apologizing for its groundbreaking 2015 paper that stated that the Philippines was among the top three plastic producers in the world. Ocean Conservancy issued an apology on July 10 regarding the paper, “Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean” for “the framing of [the] report.”
In the original paper, the US-based organization claimed that the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam are the top five plastic polluters in the world. The report stated that “over half of land-based plastic-waste leakage” could be attributed to these five countries.
Another significant claim that the paper made was its endorsement of incineration and waste-to-energy solutions as part of possible routes to minimize the presence of plastics in the oceans.
In its accountability statement, the organization has admitted that it was wrong on both counts. “We failed to confront the root causes of plastic waste or incorporate the effects on the communities and NGOs working on the ground in the places most impacted by plastic pollution,” it said.
“Further, by focusing so narrowly on one region of the world (East and Southeast Asia), we created a narrative about who is responsible for the ocean plastic pollution crisis – one that failed to acknowledge the outsized role that developed countries, especially the United States, have played and continue to play in generating and exporting plastic waste to this very region. This too was wrong,” the statement read.
In rescinding its endorsement of incineration as a type of solution to the global plastic problem, it has shifted its stance to support the circular economy model. The statement cited that incineration may increase plastic demand and serve as a barrier to a carbon-free future. Local groups have also opposed incineration and instead advocate that local government units adopt zero-waste solutions in tackling plastic waste management.
Following the 2015 report, environmental groups have pointed out that plastic use is not a consumer demand but one that multinational corporations have chosen to maximize profits, and therefore companies should be part of the narrative in addressing plastic pollution.
To date, any mention of the report has since been taken down from Ocean Conservancy’s website.