Ghost Nets, diver’s find Baltic Sea, ©Christian Howe WWF
Two innovators paving the way to a new economy
Act together, teach together: WWF and PreZero have for years been environmental protection’s dynamic duo
July 23th, 2021
Ongoing climate change, excessive wasting of resources and garbage strewn on land and especially in the sea. Environmental problems in the 21st century are diverse and complex – with both short and long-term components. It is precisely this diversity that defines the cooperation, first as part of a joint Baltic Sea voyage to recover ghost nets, then extended in 2020 for a further five years and expanded internationally:
Project “Ghost Nets”
Since 2015, PreZero has been supporting WWF Deutschland in “Ghost Nets”, as part of its commitment to protecting our oceans. More specifically, they are recovering fishing nets that have been lying abandoned in Germany’s Baltic Sea. Since 2014, specially trained fishing boat crews have already collected more than 18 tons of nets. In addition, the partners are looking for ways to recycle the salvaged nets in an environmentally friendly way.
Engagement in Southeast Asia
The duo is also active in Southeast Asia, at the other end of the world. The region is one of the chief contributors of plastic polluting our oceans. The main reason is either not enough collecting of waste and disposal systems, or they are ineffective. The high consumption of single-use recycling systems in tourist centers further exacerbates the problem. To combat the main causes of marine pollution, WWF is running various pilot projects on the ground.
The commitment focuses on two regions: the islands of Phu Quoc in Vietnam and Koh Libong in Thailand. In order to prevent the negative consequences of tourism and, in particular, plastic waste entering bodies of water, the WWF is working locally to implement waste prevention measures and build waste management systems. The systems are being established in communities adjacent to protected areas. Salvaging and collecting trash already polluting water bodies is also part of the agenda.
For PreZero and the WWF, however, it is not enough to simply identify existing problems and develop practical solutions. The goal has to be in the future preventing them from occurring in the first place. The key is consistent education of private individuals and companies that raises ecological awareness and identifies solutions.
This is precisely what the WWF Academy has been doing. It is a lively place for transferring knowledge, to innovate and for broad-based dialog for politics, business and society. Here, people can acquire the knowledge and skills to make responsible, forward-looking decisions. Courses such as “Circular Economy” and “Climate Change and Systems” provide the opportunity to acquire expertise of issues involving the environment, conservation and sustainability. PreZero also participated in a course at the academy, providing expert knowledge on the circular economy.
Supporting the WWF Academy as an „expert voice“
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy principle for eliminating environmental pollution caused by packaging waste and to move towards a circular economy. The current WWF Academy course implements the concept and key elements of EPR systems. It is also a practical guide toward implementing EPR, particularly in developing countries.
Sales manager Dr. Clemens Pues for Producer Responsibility International at PreZero Deutschland KG, lectures on EPR. Dr. Pues has 27 years of international experience in the recycling and waste management industry and is a specialist in extended producer responsibility programs. He is currently responsible for developing relationships with extended producer responsibility organizations in Europe, the Middle East and South America.
In the course holistically with the cycle of recyclable materials and shows the potential of ecological optimization . From collection and sorting to recycling and a number of overarching topics, this creates a holistic picture of the complexities of EPR.
Cooperating for the circular economy
Only by taking a holistic approach will it be possible to achieve a future economy without waste, which the WWF also seeks in its position paper “Vom Flickenteppich zur echten Kreislaufwirtschaftsstrategie” [From a patchwork to a genuine circular economy strategy] for the upcoming Bundestag elections. “Germany has lost its role as a pioneer in environmental protection and nature conservation. The next coalition agreement must provide for the development of a circular economy strategy.” is the central message of the paper.
It is precisely this idea that unites WWF and PreZero: “By ensuring that natural resources are not simply consumed, but rather reused several times over, we are driving forward the transformation from a linear to a circular economy,” says Dietmar Böhm, PreZero’s managing director. “We therefore support the WWF in calling for a holistic circular economy strategy for Germany.” In this attempt, the cooperation is not a complete solution nor a conclusion – but definitely a good start.