Oct 30 - Federal Government to Study Cleaning up Pacific Garbage Patch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has plans to send aerial drones over the North Pacific Garbage Patch within the coming two years in order to ascertain whether some sort of physical clean up of the North Pacific Gyre might be possible. But Justin Berton of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that environmentalists are skeptical that such a wide-scale cleanup up the Pacific Garbage patch is feasible and instead believe the only real solution to the problem is to stop the emission of litter from land. Up to 90% of marine debris is plastic from litter in urban runoff:

In the meantime, as the production and the use of plastic continue to grow, so will the Garbage Patch, [Garbage Patch researcher Charles] Moore said. The only way to reduce marine debris, all sides agree, is to cut it off at its source - on land. The dramatic growth in plastics use over the past two decades is what distresses activists like Moore. The annual production of plastic resin in the United States has roughly doubled in the past 20 years, from nearly 60 billion pounds in 1987 to an estimated 120 billion pounds in 2007, according to a study by the American Chemistry Council, which represents the nation's largest plastic and chemical manufacturers.

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Research indicates that the Pacific Garbage Patchâ€"an area North of Hawaii where ocean currents convergeâ€"covers about twice the area of Texas. In it, plastic outweighs plankton by a factor of six.

What CAW is Doing

CAW sponsored a package of marine-debris bills this year in the legislature, most of which were blocked by opposition from the American Chemistry Council. AB 258, which will work to monitor the littering of industrial plastic manufacturers, was signed by the governor. In addition, AB 904, which will phase out the use of harmful foamed polystyrene (Styrofoam) takeout containers, will become active again next year.

What You Can Do

Marine debris will once again be a crucial fight in the legislature next year, and CAW will be at the center of it. As the majority of our funds come from small, individual contributions, please consider a donation, so that we can continue to advocate for the interests of conservationists like you. You can also sign up to recieve email updates on CAW's Plastic Waste Reduction Campaign.