New Report Offers Pathways to Reduce Plastic Pollution Entering Ocean

A new report[1] released today raises the alarm on the need to act now to prevent the tripling of plastic pollution washing into the oceans by 2040.

The report — authored by The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ — prioritizes the elimination of all avoidable plastic and the implementation of reuse and refill systems, stating this “offers the biggest reduction in plastic pollution, often represents a net savings and provides the highest mitigation opportunity in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Oceana’s plastics campaign director, Christy Leavitt, released this statement following today’s announcement:

“The single most effective way to save our oceans and climate from plastic’s destructive wake is by stopping the problem at the source. Continuing to rely on inadequate solutions like recycling to reverse this crisis is like trying to mop up water from an overflowing bathtub while the faucet is still running — we need to turn off the tap.

This new report’s evidence of source reduction’s effectiveness strongly reinforces what the industry has ignored for far too long: The throwaway culture cultivated by companies selling disposable plastic products is not sustainable. Moving forward will require a shift away from unnecessary single-use plastic to refillable and reusable alternatives, and making that pivot is feasible only with bold action from policymakers and industry.

While the report emphasizes source reduction, it also recommends some strategies that pose real risks to environmental and public health. Because of the pollution released by incineration and chemical recycling, these waste-management ‘solutions’ should not be considered responsible pathways in curbing plastic waste.

The amount of plastic entering our ocean is projected to triple by 2040, according to the authors of this study, so maintaining ‘business as usual’ is not an option. To counter plastic’s ever-growing threat to our blue planet and our future, we need companies to cut ties with this persistent pollutant and start thinking outside of the disposable box — now.”

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