GUANGZHOU, CHINA — The Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and China's leading plastics trade association signed an agreement May 20 at the Chinaplas trade show to promote the SPI-backed Operation Clean Sweep program for reducing marine pollution and litter from stray resin pellets.
An SPI official said China is a significant addition to the program and comes after the U.S. group, which developed the OCS program, has already partnered with plastics associations in other emerging counties with large coastlines, including India, Brazil and the Philippines.
The China Plastics Processing Industry Association is the 18th industry trade group worldwide to sign on to the voluntary pledge. SPI, the American Chemistry Council and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association formed OCS in 2011.
“We hope CPPIA's decision to join results in every Chinese processing company's decision to take the OCS pledge and do their part to eradicate plastic debris from our oceans,” said Patty Long, SPI's senior vice president of industry affairs, in a statement.
“Keeping plastic resin pellets out of our oceans and reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean overall will take international collaboration and commitment, and CPPIA's participation in OCS is a crucial piece of that puzzle,” Long said.
Two recent studies have pinpointed plastics and China as playing a significant role in marine pollution.
A March report from China's State Oceanic Administration identified plastic as the primary source of both floating debris and waste on the ocean floor, and a report this year from University of California-Santa Barbara said that China is the world's largest source of plastic marine debris.
Michael Taylor, SPI's senior director of international affairs and trade, said SPI had the OCS documents, which are a series of guidelines for reducing pellet loss in factories, translated to Chinese.
“One of the key selling points with them was this is an established program, known to move the needle in the right direction, then you can have that association work for you,” he said.
Taylor said the groups have been talking about OCS for three years, after signing a generic partnership agreement to find common areas to work together, in 2012.
Chinaplas is being held from May 20 to May 23 in Guangzhou, China.