Sustainable partnership with WWF: Since 2015, we have been supporting WWF and have committed ourselves to the protection of the oceans and the avoidance of plastic waste in our involvement in different projects.
As part of our sponsorship, we are funding not only the WWF projects “Ghost Nets” in the Baltic Sea and a model project to avoid plastic garbage on the island of Phu Quoc (Vietnam) but also the initiation of an additional model project to fight the causes of plastic waste on the island of Koh Libong in Thailand.
In this way, we can support WWF not just with financial resources, but also with technical expertise: As the environmental division of the Schwarz Group PreZero brings its long-standing expertise in the reduction of plastic, the recycling economy, recycling and waste management to the partnership to achieve the joint goal of stopping the flood of plastic in the oceans.
In 2020, the collaboration with WWF was expanded internationally and extended to 2025.
Ghost Nets – The hidden danger
For marine life, fishing nets that float unchecked in the ocean or have become hooked somewhere on a reef or on the ocean floor present a grave danger. Millions of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds get caught in these so-called ghost nets and die an unnoticed and meaningless death.
According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 640,000 tons of abandoned nets are adrift in the world's oceans, which amounts to almost a tenth of the global marine waste. Up to 10,000 pieces of abandoned net find their way into the Baltic Sea alone, which present a hazard for the marine environment even after decades. Previously the fishing nets were made out of perishable natural fibers, but today they are made of plastic, which is why the lost nets only decompose after 400-600 years.
Due to loads, and sometimes due to the waves it can be ground down to microplastics and get into the food chain.
“The plastic pollution of the oceans is one of the biggest environmental problems of our time”.
Dr. Martin Bethke, Director Markets & Business WWF Germany
A Strong Partnership for Cleaner Oceans
With the “Ghost Nets” project, abandoned fishing nets will be retrieved from the ocean floor and disposed of, eliminating a significant hazard from the marine environment.
PreZero assists in the development of these methods, for instance by providing expertise in the recycling of plastics and for contaminants (e.g., lead weights) contained in salvaged nets. This is a difficult problem because the nets are heavily soiled due to the length of time they have been in the ocean and must first be cleaned before they can be recycled. Foreign substances such as metals, cables or toxic lead lines have to be sorted out manually at an enormous expense before the nets can be prepared and shredded.
Waste Prevention and Recycling in Southeast Asia
These days plastic waste is found in all marine habitats. The reasons for this are often due to a lack of or ineffective waste collection, recycling and waste disposal systems: Approximately 80% of the plastic that enters marine ecosystems can be attributed to inadequate waste management approaches on land. The region of South East Asia is one of the main sources of plastic input into the oceans, which is being aided by means of different projects to improve waste management, to introduce separated waste collections, to promote waste avoidance measures and to increase the recycling quotas for materials.
“While actions for collecting garbage on beaches and in the ocean are highly beneficial, we must prevent plastic garbage from entering the environment in the first place.”
Christoph Heinrich, WWF Board Nature Conservation
Working together to overcome challenges
For this reason, we consciously engage with WWF in regions such as Southeast Asia, which are particularly hard hit by issues such as pollution.
PreZero’s efforts are focused on two project regions: The island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam and the island of Koh Libong in Thailand. In fall 2018, the joint project for avoiding and disposing of plastic garbage in Southeast Asia was launched. The ongoing boom in tourism and insufficient disposal capacities in this region have caused it to become one of the leading sources of plastic garbage in the ocean. For this reason, WWF and PreZero are involved in efforts to improve waste prevention in the tourism sector and the establishment of a waste management system on Phu Quoc and Koh Libong.
“Protecting the ocean has become a real challenge. If we want to safeguard the most important ecosystem on our planet from irreparable damage, we need to act quickly and decisively. Our objective is to use our expertise to accelerate the development of sustainable solutions.”
Stephan Garvs, CEO PreZero Recycled Materials Management