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Dell, General Motors, Others Convene Cross-Industry Group to Address Marine Litter

Trek Bicycle, Interface, Van de Sant, Humanscale, Bureo and Herman Miller are also involved in the initiative.

Dell Inc., General Motors, Trek Bicycle, Interface, Van de Sant, Humanscale, Bureo and Herman Miller will form a collaborative and open-source initiative called NextWave. NextWave convenes leading technology and consumer-focused companies to develop the first-ever commercial-scale ocean-bound plastics supply chain. Additional supporting members of the group include UN Environment, 5Gyres Institute, Zoological Society of London and New Materials Institute.  

 “The oceans are facing a plastic pandemic and it is critical for companies to take ownership of their supply chains and for consumers be aware of how their everyday choices can have a lasting legacy,” Erik Solheim, executive director, United Nations Environment, said in a statement. “We welcome Dell and Lonely Whale for organizing this working group and spearheading what we hope will be a catalyst to innovation that can only be achieved by working together.”

The group cited research showing that an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010, and if trends do not change more than 150 million tonnes of plastic waste will have entered the ocean by 2025.

“Collaboration is critical to addressing the issue of ocean plastic at scale,” Kevin Brown, chief supply chain officer at Dell said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to partner closely with leaders across industries to advance our collective interest in creating solutions that create value from waste.”

NextWave members will share responsibility in development of a sustainable model that reduces ocean-bound plastic pollution at scale, while creating an economic and social benefit for multiple stakeholders. In addition, the group aims to ensure that the resulting supply chain has the infrastructure and support necessary to meet demand as well as align with globally approved social and environmental standards. Finally, the initiative will confirm the integrity of the supply chain and resulting product integration through chain-of-custody compliance and external, third-party verification of impact.

 “We are excited to collaborate with like-minded organizations to advance the circular economy,” Erin Meezan, chief sustainability officer, Interface, said in a statement. “Interface has proactively pursued a circular approach including recycling and reuse of materials through our ReEntry product take back program. We also helped spur ocean waste reduction with the Net-Works initiative, using ghost fishing nets as recycled content in our yarn supply chain. All of these efforts are critical to our Climate Take Back mission to create a climate fit for life. We are confident this working group can accelerate plastics recycling, driving scale and economic viability, while leaving a lasting positive impact on the health of our oceans and bringing the circular economy to the forefront.”

The Lonely Whale, an NGO dedicated to bringing people closer to the world’s ocean through K-12 education, consumer campaigns and market-based solutions will convene the group. NextWave will actively engage scientists and advocates working with marine litter and ocean health to advise on a sustainable model that supports the needs of coastal communities and environments. The initiative is supported by UN Environment, with private sector partners invited to sign up to the Clean Seas campaign as part of their commitment.

NextWave anticipates that together they will divert more than 3 million pounds of plastics from entering the ocean within five years, the equivalent to keeping 66 million water bottles from washing out to sea. 

Importantly, member companies have agreed to also reduce plastic usage across their operations and supply chains. While working to stop the flow of ocean-bound plastic it is critical to ensure each company assesses its own plastic footprint and eliminate and/or significantly reduce its own use of single-use and non-recyclable plastics.

This initiative was driven out of the relationships between Dell and the Lonely Whale. In 2015, Dell partnered with Adrian Grenier, founder of Lonely Whale, to educate companies and consumers on the dangers of ocean plastics through the Lonely Whale VR experience, powered by Dell. Dell launched its first ocean-bound plastic packaging pilot in February 2017 and assisted with the launch of the UN Environment Programme’s Clean Seas Initiative which has led to more than 33 countries taking action to reduce marine litter. In June Dell and Lonely Whale addressed the United Nations at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, where Dell pledged its commitment to UN SDG Goal 14.

“I am excited to see the private sector step up and take an active role in addressing the challenges of marine debris,” Jenna Jambeck, associate professor, Center for Circular Materials Management, New Materials Institute, University of Georgia, said in a statement. “By changing the way we think about waste, valuing the management of it and establishing groups such as this that create an economically viable and scalable model, we can catalyze the development of infrastructure including new jobs and opportunities for economic innovation while improving the living conditions and health for millions of people around the world.”

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