Giving Compass’ Take:
• Xiamen, a port city on China’s southeast coast, has created an exemplary model for efficiently collecting ocean trash.
• How can donors help expand this model of collection across other cities?
In the port city of Xiamen on China’s southeast coast, three cameras watch the Jiulong river as it wends its way to the sea. Not for the beautiful views, but to monitor litter. The images are processed to identify types of waste, predicted drift patterns are quickly calculated and ideal collection points are identified. The following day, the bulk of the stray waste will be hauled aboard a collection vessel.
This forecasting system, developed by Xiamen University, has been running since July 2017 and has made more efficient collection of marine waste a reality.
Xiamen has also managed to identify upstream sources and implement regulations to curb it. Separate work is being done to deal with the pernicious problem of abandoned fishing gear, either by making it biodegradable or making sure it gets recycled.
Other coastal cities in China are also developing strategies to prevent waste entering the ocean. With the whole world wanting solutions to the blight of ocean plastic, is Xiamen showing the way?
Before 2015, there had been little serious research into how much plastic was ending up in the ocean via China’s 18,000-km coastline and numerous rivers. But that year, Jenna Jambeck and others calculated that in 2010 China had accounted for almost one-third of all plastic waste entering the ocean, more than any other nation.
The paper, published in Science, caused a stir. Many Chinese researchers thought the amount of Chinese waste entering the ocean was overstated, though they had no data to prove it.
As research has progressed, the country has come up with its own approaches to marine waste. In this Xiamen has been a leader.
The city set up an ocean sanitation station over two decades ago to remove waste from the ocean and keep the seascapes beautiful and shipping safe.
In 2015, the China–US Strategic and Economic Dialogue identified three Chinese cities, including Xiamen, to form twin city relationships and exchange experiences on tackling marine plastic. Xiamen’s partnership with San Francisco helped it implement its early warning and emergency response mechanisms for marine waste.
Read the full article about how Xiamen tackles ocean waste by Zhang Chun at Eco-Business.
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