Jason Shor at the beach standing next to a pile of trash reclaimed from the ocean holding up a poster advertising the local efforts to clean up the beach, Poster Text: Long Ding Clean Up

Summer 2019 Language Fellow – Marine Debris Beach Cleanup in Taiwan

Marine Debris Beach Cleanup in Taiwan

Marine debris not only adversely affect marine animals when they ingest or are entangled in the them (i.e. the viral video of the turtle with a straw stuck in its nose), but also threaten food safety and quality, human health, and coastal tourism. Moreover, marine debris risk destabilizing the economic livelihood and health of the nearly 2 billion people who rely on the ocean for their primary source of protein. The most hazardous and wide-spread marine debris are plastics. Plastic waste makes up 80% of all the waste in the world’s oceans. How did this happen? Well, in short- we produce a lot of plastic! Plastic production has been exponentially increasingly since it became a commonplace consumer good in the 1950s (i.e. Tupperware, shopping bags, and candy wrappers). In 2015 alone, the amount of plastic produced was nearly equivalent to the estimated mass of 2/3 of the entire human population. Of all this plastic waste, it is estimated that only around 10% has been properly recycled, with the rest entering landfills, incineration plants, and natural environments. East Asia and the Pacific Region account for 60% of the global total of marine debris. Therefore it is no surprise that Asian countries make up eight of the top ten marine debris-polluting nations. Thus, I’ve come to Taiwan not only to increase my Mandarin language skills but also to conduct intensive research on finding/developing sustainable business solutions and emerging technologies that can be leveraged to reduce plastic marine debris. My research has been fascinating so far, and I am already assisting various organizations to adopt Circular Economy business models and technologies to reduce their waste generation while increasing profits at the same time. The best solution to addressing the plastic marine debris issue is to make solving it an easy and profitable decision for businesses, especially large corporations which heavily influence global supply chains. Below is a link to a video produced by my colleague Matt Girvan of a recent beach cleanup we documented in northern Taiwan. While beach cleanups do not solve the marine debris issue, they are immensely valuable as an educational and community building activity to increase awareness of this rapidly evolving global challenge. Enjoy the film! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTo96Tdnb_w *video credit: Matt Girvan Media; https://mattgirvanmedia.com/   Grayson Shor M.A. International Affairs, Specialized in Asia’s Emerging Circular Economy Business Ecosystem and Plastic Marine Debris Solutions Sigur Center 2019 Asian Language Fellow National Taiwan University, Taiwan

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