On May 17th over 160 executives from around the world convened on a ship off the coast of Bermuda, headed out to one of the ocean’s largest plastics gyres. The sole focus over the next four days was identifying and accelerating solutions for the global ocean plastics crisis.
The Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit was a first-of-its-kind collaborative bringing together leaders across sectors and disciplines—all dedicated to stopping the global epidemic of plastics pouring into our oceans. The goal was to face the issue head-on, and to spark new ideas, connections, and collaborations that would accelerate solutions to this massive and urgent problem.
The Summit brought together subject matter experts from around the world, as well as industry and NGO leaders who often find themselves on opposing sides of the plastics manufacturing and usage debate. Participants from the corporate world included BASF, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Unilever. Plastics value chain and technology leaders Dow Chemical and SAP, worked alongside global non-profits like 5 Gyres, Closed Loop Partners, Greenpeace, Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and more. Intensive solution development sessions were designed and facilitated by SoulBuffalo, HATCH, and IDEO.
Intensive solution development sessions were designed and facilitated by HATCHers Dave Ford (Soul Buffalo), Yarrow Kraner (Founder, HATCH), Roshi Givechi (facilitator, designer, former partner at IDEO), Aithan Shapira (MIT), David Delgado (NASA/JPL), David Yakos (Toy inventor of the Year), Tom Gruber (Co-founder of Siri), Ben VonWong (activist artist), Lauren Turk (Musician), Jared Silverman (Director of Development, HATCH & Lead Researcher Gwydion Fund), and Henri Stern (NextGen, Stanford Student).
The innovative approach and audacious goals of the Summit caught the attention of Forbes early on. National Geographic, Outside Magazine are expected to publish features in coming weeks.
Urgent problems require groundbreaking solutions.
One of the most impactful visuals from the trip was an ocean full of microplastics. Attendees went out on Zodiac boats in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to snorkel in and around patches of Sargassum (a genus of large brown seaweed known for capturing large amounts of ocean plastic). While media coverage has normalized the expectation to see large chunks of plastic floating around us, many realized the terrifying reality that the ocean is teeming with millions of tiny particles of plastic with extensive impacts on marine ecosystems. All people on the ship had to do was look into the ocean through goggles to see little pieces of microplastics floating around. Plastics large and small were also caught in the sargassum itself (toilet seats, mile crates, shoes, etc…). The problem felt overwhelming, but the dedicated collaborative approach to addressing the problem delivered new optimism.
The Summit delivered tangible outcomes, with a commitment to ongoing collaboration and solutions activation via the H360 app.