Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit / Ellen MacArthur Foundation / Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany / International Solid Waste Association / KfW Development Bank / UNESCO International Hydrological Programme

Solving the plastic waste crisis in urban waterways

Tuesday 29 August | 14.00-15.30 | Room: FH 307
Urban canal in Argentina, GIZ/Johannes Frommann

In the context of urbanisation and economic growth, there is a tremendous increase in demand for plastics and plastic packaging, particularly in developing and emerging economies. Through littering and illegal dumpsites, this trend results in growing amounts of waste in urban canals and rivers. With around 3 billion people without access to environmentally sound waste management facilities, the thus generated waste threatens human health and ecosystems while also affecting flood control, hydropower stations and urban-rural food systems. In addition, an estimated 8 million tons of plastics leak from land into the ocean every year, worsening the marine litter problem. This increasing plastics pollution of urban waterways demands new, systemic solutions. The event will focus on up- and downstream solutions and will provide examples from low- and middle income countries. The expert speakers will discuss the governance and infrastructure of integrated municipal solid waste management, the importance of packaging design to prevent plastics from leaking and the potential of wastewater valorisation in a circular economy. The session will interactively explore the synergies of collaboration between the waste, water and plastics sectors to create a system that keeps plastics in the economy, and out of urban riverine and canal systems.


14:00 Opening Remarks: Enhancing international cooperation for reducing plastic leakage into waterways and the ocean
Franz-Birger Marré
, Head of Division, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

14:10 Microplastics in freshwater environments - an issue of emerging concern
Dr. Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, Programme Specialist, International Hydrological Programme, UNESCO Paris

14:20 Can sound waste and resources management prevent marine litter?
Dr. Costas Velis, ISWA

14:30 Strengthening integrated waste management in cities to reduce waste leakage into waterways
Klaus Gihr, KfW Development Bank

14:40 Moving towards a New Plastics Economy – upstream solutions against plastic leakage into waterways
Dr. Mats Linder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

14:50 Urban Biocycles – wastewater valorization in a circular economy
Dale Walker
, WEF and Ellen MacArthur Foundation

15:00 Panel discussion
Moderator: Pascal Renaud, GIZ

15:25 Close of session