Dr. Jenna Jambeck, a plastic waste expert from the University of Georgia, has taken part in a visit as part of the U.S. Embassy’s support of South Africa as a regional leader in addressing marine debris through building scientific research and promoting capacity building.
Dr. Jambeck and other U.S. Government experts participated in a conference in Port Elizabeth, organized by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST), on the newly-launched African Marine Waste Management Network and efforts to draft a Pan-African marine pollution strategy July 9-13, 2017.
As part of the visit she saw the Plettenberg Bay’s Hope Spot Committee to talk about solutions to reduce plastic inputs from land into the ocean. Jambeck also toured a landfill site and recycling center in Hermanus, and spoke with young about pursuing careers in engineering and science.
Her southern Cape visit ended with a public lecture at the Hermanus Civic Auditorium where Overstrand Deputy Mayor Dudley Coetzee introduced her talk, “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean,” hosted by the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot Committee.
At a panel discussion at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town she spoke about global and local solutions to plastic pollution in our oceans.
“It may be easier to have policy changes happen at the municipality scale or community scale and grow [changes] from there,” said Jambeck. “That is perhaps a strategy I am putting out there for folks, if they think about initiatives at a smaller scale and grow them larger.”
At another panel session, she participated in a panel discussion at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus: Ocean Pollution -- The Impact on the Environment and Health.
The event was attended by Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) members, and specialists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), from the Ethekwini council, and local NGO’s.
“There are people alive today who remember a world without plastics,” Jambeck said. “But they have become so ubiquitous that you can’t go anywhere without finding plastic waste in our environment, including our oceans.”
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