NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Apr 15, 2016) - A "Global Alert" was launched in Times Square today, focusing not on the crowd, but on trash hot-spots in our waters around the world. The month-long campaign by Ocean Recovery Alliance, a Hong Kong based NGO, is taking place on the digital screens of Morgan Stanley in Times Square as part of a unique community program supporting selected NGO causes throughout the year. The new "Global Alert" app, available in both English and Spanish, allows people to "See, Share and Solve" by taking photos of trash hotspots in waterways or coastlines in any country. This empowers every individual to make a large, positive difference in their community via the visual information they provide on a global map. Local stakeholders in communities around the world can then use this information to prevent, clean-up, recycle, and help reduce plastic pollution in our waters.
The campaign in Times Square draws attention to the fact that each year, an estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean, 80% of which starts out on land, according to The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). This is the same as having 5 bags of trash on every foot of coastline. A recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation also suggests that there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Floating trash has no geographic or political boundaries, so solutions must involve scalable international collaboration, yet be local in scope and reach. To address this critical problem of increasing trash flowing to the oceans, Ocean Recovery Alliance has officially launched Global Alert (http://www.globalalert.org), an international innovative online tool and mobile app which allows users to report, rate and map plastic pollution levels in their rivers, along ocean coastlines, as well as underwater on reefs. It is the most powerful mapping system in existence that can bring about reduced impact of trash in our waters by broadening awareness, aggregating information for decision-making, and spurring solutions to reduce plastic in the world's rivers, and accumulating on our coastlines.
As an example of the plastic waste that we are creating as a global community, according to US-based non-profit environmental organization Earth Policy Institute, close to 2 million plastic bags are used and discarded every minute around the globe. Plastic never biodegrades and doesn't break down into natural substances, though it is at risk of photo degradation, dissolving into toxic polymer particles. Unless it has been burned or incinerated, every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists. According to Environmental Health News, plastic in the ocean kills hundreds of thousands of mammals and over one million sea birds each year. It also impacts tourism, shipping, and food safety.
As a solution to this global problem, Ocean Recovery Alliance announced the development of the Global Alert platform at the Clinton Global Initiative. Through this platform, Ocean Recovery Alliance empowers community participation for reporting and problem solving, active watershed stewardship focusing on rivers and coastlines, and raises current levels of global awareness and monitoring. The platform has been partly funded by the World Bank's Global Partnership for Oceans.
Ocean Recovery Alliance Founder Doug Woodring expressed: "It is very exciting that the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans is now being highlighted in Times Square to tens of thousands of people per day. The Global Alert platform is a tool that all of us can use within our own local communities in order to be part of the solution. The sum of all the parts will help to bring broad-based improvements on a global scale. Global Alert will shape the way that communities play an integral role in bettering their environments; inspiring cooperation, collaboration and solutions. Together we can leave a legacy of healthy oceans, rivers and engaged communities." He added: "Right now we have dedicated watershed and coastal efforts in eight countries, including Indonesia, South Africa, The Philippines, Myanmar, India, and the U.S. We expect to be able to bring positive impact to 100 watersheds and 20 countries by the end of 2016."
Using Global Alert, citizens and school groups can easily "See, Share and Solve" their problems of floating trash. Users can upload photos of trash in their waterways or coastlines, and provide information on the location and coverage area based on the volume of trash they see. Monitoring agencies and community groups will then be able to add, review, visualize and their own data, as well as Global Alert data provided by the community, empowering them to make positive steps for improvements.
By visualizing trash hot-spots on a map and accessing information on best practices for clean-up and prevention programs, community groups can develop better recycling programs and plastic management strategies, ultimately leading to less plastic waste making its way to the oceans.
Photos available on the Drop Box
About Ocean Recovery Alliance
Ocean Recovery Alliance is a registered charitable organization in Hong Kong, and a 501c3 non-profit entity in California. Ocean Recovery Alliance's focus is on ocean protection, and it strives to take a lead with a variety of existing stakeholders, leveraging each of their qualities and institutional capacities when needed, while combining forces with the business and technology sectors. The group is the first NGO to be working with both UNEP and the World Bank, and part of the Global Alert platform has been funded by the World Bank's Global Partnership for Oceans. In June 2014, Ocean Recovery Alliance launched a world-first report on the natural capital cost of plastic with Trucost and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi. It also organizes the Plasticity Forum, which focuses on the future of plastic and where the leaders are going with design, innovation and recycling, for a world with a reduced waste footprint. The event will be held in Shanghai on April 27th and 28th.