The second day of the Performance Days exhibition (November 28-29) included an extensive programme of expert talks dedicated to this edition's focus topic: 'Water - Our Responsibility'.
One of the talks saw WSA technical editor Sophie Bramel lead a panel discussion about ocean waste. As well as discussing fibres made from materials sourced from the ocean, she also talked about potential solutions to the growing problem of plastic waste in the planet’s waterways.
Ms Bramel opened her discussion by expressing her surprise about how difficult it was to get the companies who have ocean clean-up operations to take part in the panel. Although they have shown they are good at marketing their efforts, they do not seem open to talking about them in an open forum such as this.
Nevertheless, her panel included two impressive speakers: marine biologist Christian Lott, who works for Italy-based research and training institute Hydra Marine Sciences; and Niccy Kol, brand development manager for circular solutions provider Waste2Wear.
Mr Lott reiterated what he had said in his earlier individual presentation – the problem of plastic in the ocean has forced him to become a plastic biologist as well as a marine biologist.
He described plastic as “a great material”, as long as it is used properly. One of its best qualities is its durability, but this becomes an extremely negative property once plastic comes into contact with the environment.
He also explained that, despite their best intentions, ocean clean-up operations are not really achieving what they set out to achieve. He added, however, that he appreciates the work they are doing to raise public awareness of the issue.
For her part, Ms Kol used her interventions to highlight a project that Waste2Wear has carried out to look at where the ocean waste actually comes from. In this way, the organisation can help manufacturers better understand the part they play in creating this problem.
The two speakers agreed that educating the next generation about plastic pollution is important, but Mr Lott said it cannot be left for them to solve. Instead, everyone has to change the way they “interact with plastics” in order to prevent this problem from getting more serious than it already is.