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A Voice for our Ocean

Ocean Conservancy Joins U.S. Plastics Pact to Build Circular Economy for Plastics

Pact goals around recyclability and recycled content standards are critical to fighting ocean plastic pollution

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Washington, D.C. – Ocean Conservancy has announced its role as a founding Activator of the U.S. Plastics Pact. Launched today, the ambitious initiative unifies diverse public- and private-sector stakeholders to build a circular economy for plastics in the United States, in which plastic packaging is reused, composted, or recycled rather than landfilled. In 2017, the United States recycled less than 9% of the 35 million tons of plastic waste it generated, making plastics among the least-recycled materials in the country.

Led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund – both members of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance® (TFSA) – the U.S. Plastics Pact will drive collaborative action among member companies and municipalities to achieve four targets:

  1. By 2021, define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary and, by 2025, take measures to eliminate them. ​
  2. By 2025, ensure all plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. ​
  3. By 2025, recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
  4. By 2025, use an average of 30% recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in all plastic packaging. ​

“Study after study makes clear that the ocean plastics crisis requires all of us to take meaningful action,” said Doug Cress, Vice President of Conservation at Ocean Conservancy. “We are delighted that two of our Trash Free Seas Alliance members have stepped up to lead the U.S. Plastics Pact, and look forward to continuing to work together to tackle one of the most critical ocean issues of our time.”

The latest research estimates that 11 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean every year. Plastics are known to impact more than 800 marine species, and have been found everywhere from remote Arctic ice to deep ocean trenches. Plastic particles have made their way into the human food chain, reaching our dinner tables in the form of salt, seafood, and even drinking water. Ocean Conservancy research shows that expanding the use of recycled content in plastic products and packaging and designing these items so that they are easily and widely recyclable is an effective way to ensure plastics are collected and kept out of our waterways.

Ocean Conservancy has a long history of working with a range of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to support solutions to the ocean plastics crisis. Building on its experience leading the TFSA, one of the first multi-stakeholder platforms focused on marine debris and ocean plastic pollution, the U.S. Plastic Pact represents another opportunity to carry the message of ocean conservation to wider audiences.

“Together, through the U.S. Plastics Pact, we will ignite systems change to accelerate progress toward a circular economy,” said Sarah Dearman, VP of Circular Ventures for The Recycling Partnership. “The results from the U.S. Plastics Pact’s efforts to advance packaging, improve recycling, and reduce plastic waste will benefit the entire system and all materials.”

The U.S. Pact launched as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact network, joining Plastics Pacts in Europe, Latin America and Africa as a globally-aligned response to plastic waste and pollution that brings together shared ambition, combined expertise, and collaboration to create regional and national solutions toward a circular economy in which plastic never becomes waste.


About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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Jordana Lewis




Trash Free Seas

We’re working on innovative solutions to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in our ocean, threatening ocean wildlife through ingestion and entanglement.

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