Preventing Marine Litter

The films "Trashed" and "Bag It!" and the book "Toxic Love Story" look at the impact of litter on our environment and ask how we all can leave a lighter footprint on the earth. America's plastics makers hope that these discussions will help focus greater attention on litter prevention, and comprehensive efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover energy from plastics.

Everyone agrees: plastics don't belong in our oceans. The question all of us—beach goers, boaters, consumers, businesses, and public officials—should ask is: how do we keep litter out of our oceans in the first place?

Scientists, international organizations and many environmental groups have concluded that there is no single answer. Most agree that comprehensive efforts including recycling, coupled with tough litter abatement laws, well-run municipal waste management systems and behavioral changes, can help keep litter off our beaches and out of our oceans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reminds us that each individual has a role to play: The only way to truly manage the marine debris pollution issue is through prevention—changing the behaviors that cause marine debris to enter the environment."

Despite some errors, overstatements, and issues that would have benefitted from a more balanced discussion, the film brings welcome attention to the impact of careless waste handling, particularly on the marine environment. And, while the book acknowledges many of the health and safety benefits that plastics provide, some of the recommendations (such as avoiding certain plastics) can lead to choices that actually increase adverse environmental impacts. We believe that by working together to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover we can enjoy the benefits of plastics and do right by the environment at the same time. Together, governments, scientists, citizens, and businesses can work in successful partnerships to achieve real solutions. We agree with the Ocean Conservancy, which points out that "marine debris is a problem we can readily solve..."

Plastic Makers' Actions on Marine Litter

Every day, innovations in plastics help reduce emissions and conserve resources by making our cars lighter and safer, our homes more energy efficient, and our food
fresher for longer than ever before. And because littered plastic products can find their
way into the marine environment, plastic makers are working with government officials,
scientists, businesses, anti-litter groups and consumers to devise solutions to prevent marine litter. Specifically, we are:

  • Helping develop and deploy new and innovative recycling programs nationwide;
  • Promoting industry-wide practices to contain plastic pellets (www.opcleansweep.com);
  • Partnering with government and conservationists to encourage recycling and discourage litter;
  • Working to educate children on the link between litter and marine health;
  • Working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to advance scientific understanding of marine litter;
  • Supporting science-based research of both the Atlantic and Pacific gyres; and
  • Continuing to innovate and develop smaller, lighter packaging that promotes a more efficient use of resources.

For further information on plastics and marine litter, please visit: https://www.marinelittersolutions.com/.

In March 2011, ACC and PlasticsEurope jointly announced a Marine Debris Prevention Declaration, on behalf of global plastics industry associations at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii—hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Nations Environment Programme. Today, the Declaration has been signed by 69 plastics associations from regions across the globe. Recognizing their important role in fighting marine litter, these plastics associations have launched and are supporting projects in six key areas aimed at contributing to sustainable solutions. The declaration builds on existing programs of plastic trade associations and extends those efforts by creating a platform on which those groups will work to prevent marine debris through partnerships, research, and education. More information on the Declaration is available at: https://www.marinelittersolutions.com/about-us/joint-declaration/.

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