Looking forward to another successful year! 🎉 🌊

Wednesday, 31 December 2021

- Year In Review
- The Story of Plastic, Emmy Award
- The Story of Plastic wins Emmy
- New California Laws to Reduce Plastic Pollution
- UN Environment Report
- U.S. Position Change
- Major Group and Stakeholder Consultation
- UN Environment Assembly
- OECD Presentation
- Year-end Giving

** Year in Review

Hello fellow ocean lovers!

We hope that you're all well and staying safe and sane, and that the year has treating you well.

It's been another crazy year, and we've been incredibly busy here at COARE, and wanted to catch you up as we reflect on some of our wins.

** The Story of Plastic wins Emmy

One of the very last in-person events we attended in 2020 before the world went sideways was the congressional screening of The Story of Plastic at the U.S. Capitol building.

Since then, many of you have seen it, and it's received great acclaim, enlightening people to issues along every step of the lifecycle of plastic. We're proud of our friends at Peak Plastic Foundation, especially Stiv and Megan, and we were thrilled when they won the Emmy Award for Documentary Writing.

[The Story of Plastic - Emmy Award winning documentary]
The Story of Plastic - an Emmy Award winning documentary

** New California Laws to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Working as part of the Clean Seas Coalition and with a number of other organizations, we were excited to help develop and support a number of new and groundbreaking California laws that will lead the way towards reducing plastic waste.

California Governor Gavin Newson signed several of these bills into law to significantly reduce consumption and disposal of plastic, overhauling California's strained recycling infrastructure, and building historic statewide systems that are renewable/sustainable.

How often have you seen chasing arrows on something (like a piece of styrofoam) and thought to yourself, "there's no way this is recyclable!" That's one of the things that Senate Bill 143, for example, addresses. Those chasing arrows were originally intended to indicate recyclability, but were co-opted by the plastic industry in an intentionally misleading way to indicate the type(s) of plastic used.

As a followup to our request for an Executive Order to reduce unnecessary single-use packaging and utensils in takeout and delivery, AB 1276 now requires that restaurants provide single-use or disposable utensils or condiments only upon request.

Furthermore, pre-packaged utensils will be prohibited. How wasteful is it if you need just one thing (like a napkin), but you are forced to take a fork, knife, spoon, and plastic stirrer along with your napkin?

[pre-packaged utensils bring wastefulness to a new level]
Extra-wasteful pre-packaged utensils will soon be prohibited in California

** UN Environment Report

One of our proudest achievements this year was the publication of the report "Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution" in conjunction with Azul and The United Nations Environment Programme.

The first of its kind, this important report highlights the impact of plastic pollution on already vulnerable populations around the world, depriving them of basic human rights, health, and well-being. The report demonstrates how the entire life cycle of plastics – from source extraction to waste – affects marginalized communities disproportionately, and poses obstacles to the full and timely achievement of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.)

At the launch of our report, Dr. David Boyd ‐ the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment – declared that plastic pollution violates human rights. A few months later, UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights Dr. Marcos Orellana published a report expanding upon the toxic exposure we face from the various stages of the full lifecycle of plastics – including production, incineration, and disposal.

[UN EJ Report cover]
Plastic Pollution disproportionately affects vulnerable populations

** Major Group and Stakeholder Consultation

The UN Environment Programme welcomes the views and advice of Civil Society through nine Major Groups. Each group can have an impact on the views of Member States and the proceedings of the Environment Assembly and is subordinate bodies, but when the Major Groups align in positions, it makes an even more powerful statement.

Each year, representatives of the nine Major Groups convene at the Major Groups and Stakeholders International Consultation to discuss issues and possible joint positions to present to the Committee of Permanent Representatives.

At this year's Consultation, our Executive Director led a special session to discuss the need for a new legally binding treaty to address the full lifecycle of plastic, vis-à-vis a proposed resolution authored by the governments of Rwanda and Peru.

Our Executive Director drafted the Joint Statement in support of the Rwanda/Peru resolution, and subsequent discussions led to unanimous support for a new legally binding international treaty. Even the Business and Industry group called our statement a "no brainer".

[Major Groups and Stakeholders logo]
NGOs are one of nine Major Groups comprising Civil Society Organisations under the UN Environment Programme

** U.S. Position Change

One of the biggest changes we saw this year was in the United States' position on our call for a global treaty to address plastic pollution. It was not even two years ago that, at one of the expert group meetings on Marine Litter and Microplastics, the United States delegation declared that "talk of a treaty was a non-starter", and that they would "refuse to engage in any meeting where it was included on the agenda or was a topic of discussion."

However, after continued pressure from our coalition of organizations, and after a meeting with the U.S State Department and Monica Medina, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the United States made an official statement on 18 November that it was in support of a new treaty to "combat ocean plastic pollution."

While we are disappointed that their statement was limited in scope to "ocean plastic" and clearly does not attempt to address the full lifecycle of plastic, it is still an ENORMOUS step forward from their previous position which attempted to disrupt and derail proceedings.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we're encouraged by the progress, and excited to see that we're collectively having an affect.

** United Nations Environment Assembly

The Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly was split into two parts, with a brief formal meeting held virtually earlier this year to consider budgetary and other keep-the-lights-on matters. The second, substantive portion of the meeting was postponed, and will be held in Nairobi beginning 28 February 2022.

We hope that there our years of expert deliberation will direct the discussion and mandate for an International Negotiating Committee (INC), to begin paving the path for a new plastics treaty.

There are currently two proposed resolutions on the table seeking to create this INC; the first is authored by the governments of Rwanda and Peru, and inclusively highlights all the aspects we seek in a future framework. The second – and competing – resolution is presented by Japan, and unfortunately omits a number of critical aspects. Sadly, that resolution also very specifically refers to "marine plastic pollution", rather than considering the greater issues with the entire lifecycle of plastic.

Our Executive Director will attend the UN Environment Assembly in February – as well as the preceding meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives – to help support our allies in these negotiations and works towards the strongest resolution possible.

** OECD Presentation

A new report addressing Sustainable Design of Plastics from a Chemical Perspective was recently released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Our Executive Director was asked to represent all NGOs globally in a recent meeting of the Environmental Policy Committee (EPOC) of the OECD to discuss this report and offer recommendations for further work and improvements.

Our intervention was well-received, and our comments were later echoed by a number of member States. The authors of the report acknowledged our suggestions and committed to incorporating them in a future revision.

[screenshot of OECD zoom meeting]
Our Executive Director Addressing the OECD

** OECD Presentation

The UN Environment Programme welcomes the views and Our very first in-person event since the Pandemic began was the 2021 DEMA Show. Not including last year's virtual DEMA event, this was COARE's 13th show, and it was a wonderful success. Smaller in both size and attendance than typical shows, we had fewer overall visitors to our booth, but all our conversations were significant and worthwhile, affording us the opportunity to have more in-depth discussions.

We'd like to welcome our newest subscribers who joined our mailing list at the DEMA Show, and we'd like to thank our volunteers who staffed the booth, including Sarah, Morgane, Chris, and Christopher.

At DEMA we launched a rebranding and expansion of our Green Divers for Blue Oceans program, providing conservation suggestions for multiple sectors of the SCUBA industry. Along with the launch, we also held a seminar at DEMA to improve sustainability in and for the SCUBA industry

The seminar was well-received and absolutely packed, with people lining the walls. Following the presentation, we hosted a robust Q&A session that lasted until we had to free the room for the next presenter.

We're excited to help transform the Dive Industry, and to help protect the ocean we all love – and on which we depend.

The next DEMA show is scheduled to take place the first week of November 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

A video recap of DEMA Show 2021

** Year-end Giving and Change of Address

2021 has been quite a year. While we haven't traveled as much or seen many of you in person at various events, we've been busier than ever. We continue to face challenges in a number of ways, but we feel very accomplished and optimistic.

We could not have done what we do without YOU – our readers and our supporters. You provide us with the inspiration, encouragement, and resources that allow us to fulfill our mission and *literally* change the world.

Yet, we wish we could do so much more.

As most of you are likely aware, we are a volunteer-led and volunteer-run organization, and since its inception, not a single penny of your donations has been spent on staff or administration. Your dollar, euro, yen, yuan, or rupee could not go further towards making a real difference than it does here at COARE.

We run leanly, and with our many accomplishments, you can see that your contributions truly help shape the future.

Please consider COARE in your year-end giving plans, and help us bring your voice of change into ocean conservation:


Remember, all contributions to COARE are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law, and any donation you make by December 31st (whether online or by post) will count towards your 2021 tax year deductions. Please also check with your employers regarding matching gifts; in many cases, you can double the power of your contribution.

If you are mailing a check, we will be happy to honor the postmark for the year's reporting; please be sure, though, that you make note of our new mailing address:

490 43rd Street
Oakland, California  94609


Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends, family, and colleagues.

If you received this newsletter second hand, we encourage you to subscribe directly by visiting:

Wishing you healthy oceans,
Your friends at COARE

P.S.: We encourage you to add newsletter@coare.org to your addressbook to facilitate delivery of our newsletter to your inbox.