Oceana Applauds Panama’s Bold Commitment to Reduce Plastic Pollution at 8th Annual Our Ocean Conference in Panamá | Oceana

Oceana Applauds Panama’s Bold Commitment to Reduce Plastic Pollution at 8th Annual Our Ocean Conference in Panamá

Oceana says plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats facing our oceans today

Press Release Date: March 2, 2023

Location: Panamá City, Panamá


Dustin Cranor | email: dcranor@oceana.org
Dustin Cranor

As the 8th annual Our Ocean conference got underway in Panama City this week, Panama’s Ministry of Environment announced bold commitments to reduce plastic pollution, including stopping more than 160,000 tons of plastic that is imported and consumed in the country each year.

The commitments include:

  • In three years, eliminate the use of single-use plastic items, such as plastic utensils and plastic cups;
  • In five years, reduce the import and consumption of plastic packaging by 30%, including plastic foam food containers;
  • In seven years, reduce the import of virgin plastic by at least 20%; and
  • In 10 years, reduce the sale and import of single-use plastic and virgin plastic by 50%.

Oceana, the world’s largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation, applauded the new commitments, and released the following statement from its Chief Policy Officer, Jacqueline Savitz:

“We applaud Panama’s leadership in tackling plastic pollution. Plastics are not only polluting our oceans, they’re also contributing to the growing climate crisis. Panama’s commitment to regulate plastics addresses two of our ocean’s greatest threats at once because plastic production is also a major driver of climate change. Panama’s efforts to aggressively tackle plastic pollution at the source send a strong signal to the rest of the world. We hope other nations participating in the Our Ocean conference will make equally meaningful commitments.”


Data from the Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Panama generates 191,580 tons of plastic waste each year and is the second largest waste producer in Latin America. In recent years, Panama has been a leader in the fight to address plastic pollution. Panama was the first Central America nation to ban plastic bags, and since then has banned other disposable plastic items. Panama’s latest commitments follow similar actions in recent months by Canada, Chile, and the U.S. state of California to reduce the production and sale of unnecessary single-use plastics. 

Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. Plastic has entered our soil, water, air, and food, and it’s a significant contributor to climate change. When plastics end up in the ocean, they just break up into smaller and smaller pieces that are swallowed by everything from fish and sea turtles to seals and seabirds, many of which are endangered. In the U.S. alone, Oceana found evidence of 1,792 marine mammals and sea turtles from 40 different species swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic between 2009 and 2020. Recycling alone is not enough to solve the plastics crisis. In fact, only 9% of all the plastic waste ever generated has been recycled. With plastic production expected to triple in the next three decades, increasing amounts of plastic can be expected to flood into our oceans with devastating consequences.

Oceana campaigns to stop plastic pollution at the source — holding companies like Coca-Cola and Amazon accountable for the plastic waste they create, and campaigning to pass policies that reduce the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastic, while moving toward refillable and reusable systems. 

Press release available in Spanish here.

Media Contacts:

Alejandra Arauz Jimenez, aarauz@thecorporatediplomacy.com + 507 6639 7064

Dustin Cranor, dcranor@oceana.org +1 954 348 1314

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org to learn more.