News

workshop amwnPlastic is everywhere, in what we wear, covering the things and food we buy, in the tyres on which we drive, it’s even in the teabags we steep in water. We use it all the time in ways we don’t even know, and yet we feel righteous saying no to a plastic straw or bag. Such is the dilemma we face.

‘The reality is that the problem that we’re dealing with is systemic,’ said Harold Gess of Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, ‘and the question is how do we disrupt it given its interconnectedness, complexity, resilience and the fact that we are embedded in it and our behavior sustains it.’

These were some of the questions posed at SST’s African Marine Waste Network’s Communications and Networking Workshop held in Port Elizabeth early October. A small group from government, industry and civil society came together to think plastic pollution, how to talk about it and change people’s behaviour around it. Along with Gess, speakers were Professor Anthea Garman , also from Rhodes University; former NMBT CEO Mandlakazi Skefile; the DEA’s Director of Waste Management Dumisani Buthelezi; Janine Basson, Petco’s Stakeholder Relations Manager; SST’s own Namhla Mbunge, Head of Enterprise Development, and Sonya Schoeman, Head of Communications. SST’s CEO Dr Tony Ribbink gave a welcome address.

The workshop posed the question: how do we change behaviour that contributes to Africa’s growing plastic-waste problem, as well as grow a network that supports us in doing this?

Changing behaviour around plastic pollution is no simple matter, especially considering how complex societies in Africa can be, particularly in South Africa. For instance, some communities believe that the sea cleanses itself, while decades of neglect by the apartheid government, which did not provide municipal services for collection of waste, has entrenched a certain tolerance towards it; these are just a few of the issues we face, said SST’s Namhla Mbunge. Tackling perceptions is part of the problem, but we also need to make recycling and plastic-waste disposal as easy as possible. Some of the greatest inhibitors to changing behaviour are ‘solutions’ that take time, cost too much money, require too much physical effort or mental effort, said Sonya Schoeman. If plastic disposal or recycling are made easy, the more effective the change will be.

Prof Garman put forward the concept of ‘sustainable journalism’, which is a way of resolving journalistic objectivity versus advocacy. This incorporates the best aspects of traditional journalism and strives to educate people about the nature and importance of sustainable development or the effort to achieve both economic development and a sound environment, and it supports dialogue between people in an effort to find solutions. Most of all, we need to ‘rebrand the apocalypse’, she said, because the message of environmental doom is only making all stakeholders give up on taking any action at all.

Developing a network to spread relevant messages takes a great deal of time, said Janine Basson, from Petco. It requires building trust and support, and investing in relationships. Most importantly, for it to be impactful, an organisation needs to be as strategic as possible about whom it needs to target, and what messages to convey to each of those groups in order to facilitate effective change.

The workshop’s full report will soon be available for download on the site.

workshop amwn2

Youth, you can beat plastic pollution!

Published: 07-11-2018

‘Young people have an incredibly important role [when it comes to plastic pollution], but you must get on top of it!’ This good-natured order came from Derek Hanekom, Acting Mini... Read more

Meet the Map Makers: Rick Bonnier

Published: 27-09-2018

Rick-Ernest Bonnier of Clean Ocean, member of the African Marine Waste Network Rick-Ernest Bonnier, 27, wants to change the world. In particular, he wants to rid it of the scourge... Read more

Recycled-plastic desks support local learning and …

Published: 23-04-2018

Two of South Africa’s leading plastic recycling names teamed up with the African Marine Waste Network to furnish a disabled care facility with eco-conscious desks and chairs. Thin... Read more

Norway and African Marine Waste Network team up to…

Published: 23-04-2018

Dr Tony Ribbink and Norwegian Ambassador HE Trine Skymoen made the big announcement on April 24th. The partnership will see a feasibility study conducted in Nelson Mandela Bay this... Read more

Dealing with Marine Waste - South Africa-Norway Sc…

Published: 08-02-2018

Last year, Dr. Tony Ribbink represented the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN) at the South Africa-Norway Science Week of 2017 (SW2017) during the Green Maritime Seminar. A plen... Read more

PETCO Communications Hub rising to meet the challe…

Published: 06-02-2018

Communication is the key to solving the issue of plastic waste; it raises awareness, promotes interest, shares knowledge and educates. This is why Dr. Tony Ribbink, Director of t... Read more

Where does my Recycling Go? Part 2: Converters

Published: 24-10-2017

Last week we looked at Material Recovery Facilities, the first stop for your recycling. This week we continue the story and show you how recovered plastics are recycled and turned ... Read more

Where does my Recycling Go? Part1: Material Recove…

Published: 17-10-2017

  This is the third installment of the AMWN Showcase. Read the first and second installments. Few of us consider the fate of the waste we produce once it passes ou... Read more

Microplastics on the Menu

Published: 11-10-2017

Image source: iStock This article is the second instalment of the AMWN’s On the ground Showcase series. Read the first instalment here. There’s no denying that plastic is ... Read more

PACKA-CHING set to pack a punch in the world of in…

Published: 04-10-2017

  This article is the first installment of the AMWN’s On the ground Showcase series. Want your initiative showcased? Email info@africanwastenetwork.org.za Read more about ... Read more

AMWN on Wits Science Inside Radio Show

Published: 13-09-2017

Dr Holly Nel and Tatjana Baleta of the African Marine Waste Network were interviewed by Wits “Science Inside” radio show in light of the recent plastic bag ban in Kenya. The show ... Read more

Sylvia Earle, SST patron, features on cover of TIM…

Published: 29-08-2017

Dr Sylvia Earle is name that for many needs no contextualising. An oceanographer, explorer, author and conservationist, she is known the world over as an icon of the ocean and am... Read more

Mobile Apps and Marine Debris

Published: 29-08-2017

 Mobile Apps for combating Marine Debris Mobile applications have the power to turn your phone into a handy pocket-sized tool for fighting marine debris. Data on types and ... Read more

News from the AMW Conference

Published: 14-07-2017

“Waste is a human problem. There is no waste in nature.” With these words Dr Sylvia Earle gave the keynote address at the inaugural African Marine Waste Conference last week in P... Read more

Boaz sets sail for Port Elizabeth

Published: 26-06-2017

And they’re off! The yacht Boaz set sail from Gordon’s Bay, Cape Town this Monday morning at 5:30am on high tide in good conditions. The yacht is due to arrive in P.E. on the 8th... Read more

Gabon announces creation of largest marine reserve…

Published: 15-06-2017

An eel slithers through coral patches off an oil platform in Gabon. Photograph by Enric Sala, National Geographic Creative   Last Monday Gabon lead the way for Africa and... Read more

Cellphone apps and GIS: A response to data deficie…

Published: 15-06-2017

Plastic is a revolutionary material. Nowadays it’s found nearly everywhere; from the containers keeping our food fresh, to the clothes we wear, to everyday home and office suppli... Read more

PETCO launches the Communications Hub for AMWN

Published: 07-06-2017

  SST is proud to announce that PETCO is generously sponsoring the PETCO Communications Hub of the African Marine Waste Network (AMWN), which has just been  launched.&... Read more

New Partnership with DPaPP

Published: 23-05-2017

 SST and the AMWN are excited to announce a new partnership with DPPAP. Establishing the Network means starting right here on our very own coastline: East to West and beyon... Read more

Do One Thing (DOT) Challenge

Published: 15-02-2017

Braam Malherbe together with rowing partner Wayne Robertson, set off on their epic 6700km unassisted rowing expedition to Rio de Janeiro, launching the DOT (Do One Thing) Challen... Read more

Buli G Ngomane

Published: 31-01-2017

TV Presenter on SABC 3's "The Power Within", Buli G has a prime-time radio presenting career in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng under her belt and is currently the Communications Exec... Read more

My Waste

Published: 13-01-2017

So you've decided to "go green." You've replaced your regular light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and purchased recycling bins. You've even organised ... Read more

2017 Conference - New Speakers Announced!

Published: 08-12-2016

Sustainable Seas Trust and the African Marine Waste Network are excited to announce that Sylvia Earle, Jenna Jambeck, Kristian Teleki, Nancy Wallace, Hayley McLellan, Willemijn P... Read more

Unseen Danger: The Truth About Microplastics

Published: 25-11-2016

Images of plastic debris choking estuarine systems or spreading insidiously across the surface of the sea are commonly used to represent the issue of marine pollution - and for goo... Read more

Silence of the Sharks

Published: 08-06-2016

Concerned ocean users voice their support for the Silence of the Sharks underwater protest Read more

Concerned ocean

Published: 08-06-2016

Concerned ocean users voice their support for the Silence of the Sharks underwater protest Endorsed by UGU South Coast Tourism, the biggest underwater protest ever held in South A... Read more