Founder, Jo Ruxton, and the Board of Plastic Oceans are delighted to announce the appointment of Simon Usher as our new global CEO.
Simon is a highly experienced sustainability and international development professional; a strategist at home with global challenges and systemic-change. Simon’s career spans the corporate world of sustainability and CSR, the international development world of child-centred community development, and specific sustainable development topics from climate change and sustainable cities to human rights, agriculture, textiles and supply chains. Having left his role as CEO at Bonsucro (the global standard for sustainable sugarcane) to travel the world with his wife on a mountain-bike tandem, he returned with a new passion.
In Simon’s own words, “The world is an amazing place. But the more we travelled the more I became shocked by humanity’s collective indifference to plastic waste. It was on a remote beach in Malaysia where I found my passion. We were on a picturesque island in the South China Sea. Having borrowed snorkelling gear and trekked an hour through the jungle, far away from all residential areas, to a beach where nobody goes but where the coral was supposed to be spectacular, we arrived to a sea of plastic. This wasn’t left by locals or by tourists but had been carried in on the tide. My disgust carried on building for the rest of my time away, witnessing public beaches littered with polystyrene food containers – deliberately dropped by families out for a picnic; moped drivers discarding their iced coffee cups into the storm drains beside the road; beautiful old temples with plastic bottles and food wrappers littering the grounds. When I asked why nobody clears it up they just shrugged and said, “We just wait for the storms to take it away”.
“I decided that when we got back I had to see what I could do. I was delighted to find that Plastic Oceans was looking for a new CEO. It’s an amazing organisation that has played a significant role in sparking public awareness about single-use plastics and their impact on our marine environment. We now have growing public permission to tackle this issue, and there are already some impressive industry collaborations, but the challenge is both complex and global. Generations have grown up thinking that plastic is disposable. This thinking is ingrained in our way of life. We can’t just turn back the clock. Plastic is with us and it does have its place. We also can’t strive for our mission whilst ignoring the other global challenges. The marine environment is hugely important to us, not least as a carbon sink and a major source of protein; but we also need to play our part in reducing carbon, conserving water, preventing deforestation, and improving the efficiency of the global food systems in order to feed a growing urban population.
I am really looking forward to this complex and worthy challenge. We are a long way from understanding scaleable solutions. Please do join us as we re-think how to ’stop plastic reaching the oceans within a generation?”