Ocean Recovery Alliance: Global Alert - Floating Trash

Ocean Recovery Alliance: Global Alert - Floating Trash

About the Project

Global Alert – Floating Trash, is an app and web platform run by Ocean Recovery Alliance, which allows communities around the world to take action to “See, Share and Solve" trash hotspots in their waterways and coastlines.   The project targets communities, schools, companies, municipalities, and all of those whose lives are entwined with waterways, fresh or marine, and are thereby affected by trash polluting the water system, and the ocean.

Each year, roughly 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean, damaging marine and coastal ecosystems. Global Alert is a new platform and app which provides an innovative scalable solution that will engage, empower, and change the behavior of hundreds of communities globally to make collective improvements in reducing plastic waste that makes its way to the ocean.  Global Alert was launched at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), and was partly funded by the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans.

Critical Need

Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems support all life on earth and provide necessary services, including food security, resources for economic growth, recreation and tourism, all of which can hinder or benefit the welfare of the coastline itself. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has estimated that over 70% of marine debris starts out on land. From there it makes its way into the lakes, rivers and streams that form an extensive network—a circulatory system—that can carry trash across continents and straight into the heart of the world’s ocean. Floating trash has no geographic or political boundaries, so solutions must involve scalable international collaboration, yet be local in scope and reach.

To address the problem of increasing marine debris flowing to our ocean, Ocean Recovery Alliance announced the Global Alert platform at the Clinton Global Initiative, as an innovative, online tool and mobile app which allows users to report, rate and map plastic pollution levels in their rivers, along ocean coastlines, and even underwater on reefs. This will broaden awareness, aggregate information for decision-making, and spur solutions to reduce plastic debris outflows via the world’s rivers or accumulation on coastlines. Global Alert will accomplish this goal by addressing a number of issues that include:

  • Enabling community participation for reporting and problem solving
  • Catalyzing active watershed stewardship focusing on rivers
  • Providing global awareness and monitoring

By visualizing trash hot-spots on a map, along with being able to learn about best practices for cleanup and prevention programs, community groups can develop better recycling programs and plastic management strategies, ultimately leading to less floating trash making its way to the ocean. Using Global Alert, citizens and school groups will easily “See, Share and Solve” their floating trash problems. Users will be able to upload photos or videos of trash in their water systems or coastlines, provide information on the location and coverage area based on the volume of trash they see. Monitoring agencies and community groups will be able to add, review, visualize and analyze their own data, as well as Global Alert data provided by the community, empowering them to make positive steps for improvements. Together we can leave a legacy of healthy oceans, rivers and engaged communities. Cleaner water, both fresh and salt, will be the result.

The Action Grant will help to spread the awareness about the Global Alert app and platform, and will allow people to understand how to use it, as well as how best to engage stakeholders in their communities to build collaborations focused on cleanup, prevention, and better management of watersheds and coastlines.

About Ocean Recovery Alliance:

The focus of Ocean Recovery Alliance is to bring together new ways of thinking, technologies, creativity and collaborations in order to introduce innovative projects and initiatives that will help improve our ocean environment.  This includes creating business opportunities for local communities when applicable, in order to address some of the pressing issues that our ocean faces today.

Ocean Recovery Alliance is a registered charitable organization in Hong Kong, and a 501c3 registered non-profit in the U.S.   Ocean Recovery Alliance strives to take a lead with a variety of existing stakeholders, leveraging each of their qualities and institutional capacities when needed, while combining forces with the business and technology sectors in ways that have not been done before.

It announced two projects at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) focused on the global reduction of plastic pollution (Plastic Disclosure Project and the Global Alert platform/app), and is one of the only NGOs in the world to have worked with both the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans.  The group also organizes Kids Ocean Day Hong Kong and the Plasticity Forum which is a business conference focused on the future of plastic, and where the leaders are going in design, innovation, materials, recycling and solutions, for a world without the waste footprint.  It recently launched the Grate Art project, putting Art for Awareness on some of the streets of Hong Kong to remind people not to dump into storm drains.

To put the issue of plastic pollution into context, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has pointed to plastic pollution in the ocean as one of their main three focal points in their 2011 UNEP Yearbook, which Ocean Recovery Alliance was a co-author of.

Doug Woodring is the Co-Founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, a non-profit organization which is focused on bringing innovative solutions, technology, collaborations and policy together to impact positive improvements for the health of the ocean.  Two of its global programs were launched at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010, and he is a UNEP Climate Hero, and Google Earth Hero for his efforts.  He has been on the advisory board of the XPrize, and The Economist’s World Oceans Summit, and in 2011, he co-authored the United Nations Environmental Program Yearbook chapter on the danger of plastic in the ocean.  Ocean Recovery Alliance is the first NGO in the world to be working with both UNEP and the World Bank on plastic pollution and ocean issues.  He is on the Advisory Committee of Wharton’s Institute for Global Environmental Leadership, and is the founder of the Plasticity Forum which focuses on plastic innovation, design, materials recycling and solutions, without the waste footprint. 

Doug has worked in Asia for over 20 years, including four years in the asset management industry, where at Merrill Lynch Asset Management Hong Kong in 1998, he proposed the company’s first global environmental technology fund.  He has been nominated three times as World Open Water Swimmer of the Year for his innovative contributions to the sport, and was recently named as one of the top 50 “watermen” in the world.   Born in Northern California, Doug has a dual master’s degree from The Wharton School (MBA) and Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Environmental Economics.  He has BA from the University of California at Berkeley.

Project Updates and Milestones

From late December until March filming will take place in Indonesia and one or two other locations, to be determined.  Case studies of use of the platform will be shown so that other communities and potential users can understand how to use Global Alert to their advantage. The 5-7 minute film is expected to be released on April 22, 2017, Earth Day.