Plastic Litter and Waste Reduction Campaign
Stopping the Rising Tide of Marine Debris Pollution
The world's oceans are being filled with materials that take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose and the problem will only grow worse if action is not taken.
The US EPA estimates that west coast communities spend over $520 million each year to keep marine debris from polluting our waters--about $13 for each resident.
60-80% of marine debris overall and up to 90% of floating debris is plastic. Furthermore, 80% of marine debris is estimated to be land-sourced, mostly from urban runoff, like the trash pictured here in the L.A. River. This marine debris rides ocean currents that can take it across the globe, as evidenced by the beach debris on remote Pacific Atolls. As plastic is broken down by the sun it joins the great mass of plastic particles in our oceans.
This marine debris presents a danger to marine wildlife. This incredible mass of plastic has grave implications for marine wildlife, including filter feeders such as whales. According to the CCC, more than 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish have died annually in the north Pacific from ingesting or becoming entangled in marine debris.
Furthermore, due to their chemical composition plastic particles collect toxins on their surface which can harm the reproductive health of animals that consume them. Furthermore, marine debris is a drag on local governments, which are mandated to clean it up. The problem is especially great in areas that have been deemed US EPA impaired waterways, and thus must meet Total Maximum Daily Loads for trash, such as the Los Angeles River. Southern California cities alone have spent hundreds of millions on meeting TMDL requirements, and the clean-up costs of marine debris as a whole may well push the $1 billion mark, according to the California Ocean Protection Council.
Addressing these and other concerns, the California Ocean Protection Council adopted a comprehensive set of resolutions last year that set calendar deadlines for the implementation of several marine-reduction goals, such as the expansion of the CRV and the reduction of single-use takeout food packaging.
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