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Operation Clean Sweep: Starting the Wave

Plastic usage pervades modern life, with more plastic products being produced each year. Yet, this convenience comes at a grave cost, as the lifecycle of plastic generates a staggering amount of waste. From the inception of raw materials to the final disposal of products, plastic waste proliferates largely unchecked. The consequences are dire: according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a staggering 14 million tons of plastic pollute our oceans annually, constituting 80% of marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.

In this landscape, DNV plays a role in ensuring transparency around corporate efforts to improve sustainably. Recognized as a trusted certification body, DNV is dedicated to help companies improve performance in a structured way through third-party management system certification and training.

Championing Environmental Responsibility

At the forefront of the battle against plastic pollution stands Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), a collaborative initiative orchestrated by European Plastics Converters, Plastics Europe, the US-based OCS Organization, and the American Society of Chemistry. While originating as a voluntary effort in the United States, OCS has since evolved, fostering transatlantic partnerships aimed at curbing the release of microplastics and plastic pellets into the environment. Unified by a common goal, industry stakeholders combined their expertise to birth this vital operation.

In 2020, the European Plastics Converters Association and PlasticsEurope embarked on a joint endeavor to develop a certification framework aligned with OCS principles by 2022. This initiative aimed to meticulously monitor and document compliance across the plastic supply chain.

Setting the Standard

OCS’s primary objective is to safeguard environmental integrity by reducing plastic pollution in oceans. By meticulously analyzing pellet loss and implementing spill mitigation strategies, OCS fosters a culture of environmental stewardship within the industry. The audit process not only informs legislative measures but also serves as a catalyst for continual improvement.

Charting the Course

Effective implementation of the OCS Certification program hinges on rigorous auditing of every production stage to minimize waste. By offering unparalleled transparency, the certification process fosters accountability and operational excellence. Michal Skup, OCS Scheme Manager at DNV, underscores the transformative potential of third-party assessments, advocating for enhanced trust and continuous improvement.

“A major emphasis lies in fostering transparency and trust through the implementation of a tool that not only structures and records areas of improvement and control measures but also enhances effectiveness,” states Skup. “Third-party assessment bolsters trust among stakeholders, fostering continual improvement within companies while also enabling them to demonstrate their commitment externally. Moreover, these assessments generate valuable data with potential applications for informing future regulations and refining guidelines.”

Reaping the Rewards

Whenever possible, it’s recommended to integrate the Operation Clean Sweep certification with other existing Environmental Management Systems (EMS) standards such as ISO 14001, EMAS or similar schemes. This alignment amplifies the environmental impact and ensures comprehensive adherence to OSC standards.

Based on DNV experience in auditing OCS voluntary signatories to other management system standards, some chose to implement select OCS requirements. It is recommended for OCS voluntary signatories whose ambition is to be externally certified to perform OCS internal audits first.

The direct benefits of certification that contribute to improved environmental sustainability include:

  • More material remains as a valuable product instead of becoming waste, improving process efficiency.
  • Companies improve their environmental footprint and plastics are kept out of the environment, including waterways and oceans.
  • Better environmental image for companies, which is increasingly important to attract investors and qualified employees.
  • Market recognition as a sustainable leading player in the plastic industry.


About DNV

DNV is an independent assurance and risk management provider, operating in more than 100 countries. Through its broad experience and deep expertise DNV advances safety and sustainable performance, sets industry standards, and inspires and invents solutions as one of the world’s leading certification bodies. Through management system certification and training services, we help companies manage risks, assure compliance and sustainable performance of organizations, people and value chains across all types of industries, including food & beverage, automotive and aerospace. DNV’s digitally enabled certification services help customers tackle quality, environmental, safety or security challenges.

For further information please contact:

Cecilie Løne
Global Communications Manager, Business Assurance
Phone: +47 905 81 704