Waste Free Oceans was founded in May 2011, based on an alarming observation: each year, millions of tonnes of plastic are leaked into the environment and ultimately end up in rivers, seas and oceans. Over time, floating debris breaks into microplastics that are likely to enter the food chain, through ingestion by marine animals. Since the establishment of the foundation, WFO has been encouraging cross-sectoral cooperation by working together with the fishing community, the plastics industry, brand owners, recyclers, petrochemical companies, European institutions and local associations to reduce the amount of floating marine debris.
Over the past ten years, WFO has been working closely with the European institutions to increase enforcement of environmental legislation and deploy appropriate economic instruments. The organisation received political support from the EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, members of the EU Parliament, UNEP and many others. WFO actively participated in the 4 EU Regional Seas Conventions, EU discussions around PRF, SUP, but also in debates at regional level. Together with its champion, MEP Søren Gade, the NGO aims to continue partnering with institutions, policy makers and stakeholders, as marine litter remains today on the top of the agenda of the majority of governments of the world.
Progressively, WFO inspired many others to start working on collection and has always been at the forefront of solutions. The organisation led to the creation of many public and private partnerships to create value from the plastic waste streams. Post-consumer plastic waste has a value and should, therefore, be reused and recycled as part of the circular economy for plastics. In doing so, it will help protect the environment, reduce marine litter, greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on imported fossil fuels. In collaboration with the plastics industry, recyclers, brand owners and petrochemical companies, WFO created new and innovative products from ocean plastic, lost or abandoned fishing gear or post-consumer plastic waste: e.g. eyeglasses, watches, furniture, household products, PPE, clothing, etc. Today, the organisation continues to offer alternatives for projects and clean-up actions through fishing for litter activities and beach clean-ups.
Throughout the years, WFO has been raising awareness of marine litter by working together with all stakeholders, both public and private partnerships. The organisation is active worldwide, having structures in the Americas, Asia and Middle East, and currently also expanding to Africa and Australia. The fight against ocean plastic pollution is far from being won, so WFO is continuously looking for new collaborations worldwide.
Alexandre Dangis, WFO Co-Founder said: “After ten years, WFO is now contributing to a global waste action plan and all stakeholders need to continue to engage in collaborations to enhance local waste collection, increase plastic recycling and urge consumers to stop littering. Only by working together, will we succeed in transitioning to a global circular economy and preparing for the future.”
The NGO made significant progress in the fight against marine litter, but the fight is not over. “The past ten years, we have been able to inspire many others around the world to go the extra mile, to stop littering and to change mindsets. We have been at the basis of some iconic products brought to market together with our frontrunner partners. Our specific knowledge and know-how has been shared with authorities and organisations around the world.”, said Bernard Merkx, WFO Co-Founder. “Whereas important steps have been taken in some parts of the world, there are still many challenges ahead and we still learn day by day. Doing nothing is not an option. No time to waste, let’s go circular!", he continued.
WFO would also like to thank all the heroes who have contributed to the organisation’s success over the past ten years, especially the EU Commissioner for Fisheries Maria Damanaki and former MEPs Anna Rosbach and Alain Cadec.
Join WFO in the celebration of its 10th anniversary by working together to save our oceans.