Suggestions for a Systematic Regulatory Approach to Ocean Plastics
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFoods. 2021, 10 (9), . 10.3390/foods10092197
The research investigates the problems and maps the solutions to the serious threat that plastics pose to the oceans, food safety, and human health, with more than eight million tons of plastic debris dumped in the sea every year. The aim of this study is to explore how to better improve the regulatory process of ocean plastics by integrating scientific results, regulatory strategies and action plans so as to limit the impact of plastics at sea. Adopting a problem-solving approach and identifying four areas of intervention enable the establishment of a regulatory framework from a multi-actor, multi-issue, and multi-level perspective. The research methodology consists of a two-pronged approach: 1. An analysis of the state-of-the-art definition of plastics, micro-, and nanoplastics (respectively, MPs and NPs), and 2. The identification and discussion of loopholes in the current regulation, suggesting key actions to be taken at a global, regional and national level. In particular, the study proposes a systemic integration of scientific and regulatory advancements towards the construction of an interconnected multi-tiered (MT) plastic governance framework. The milestones reached by the project SECURE at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway provide evidence of the strength of the theory of integration and rights-based approaches. The suggested model holds substantial significance for the fields of environmental protection, food security, food safety, and human health. This proposed MT plastic governance framework allows for the holistic and effective organization of complex information and scenarios concerning plastics regulation. Containing a clear definition of plastics, grounded on the precautionary principle, the MT plastic framework should provide detailed mitigation measures, with a clear indication of rights and duties, and in coordination with an effective reparatory justice system.