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A Voice for Our Ocean

Statements: Ocean Conservancy Endorses Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act

In 2019, Senator Tom Udall and Representative Alan Lowenthal announced their intent to draft legislation tackling the plastic pollution crisis. Ocean Conservancy has worked closely with the offices of both congressmen, along with other organizations, throughout the development of the bill. On Tuesday, February 11, Sen. Udall and Rep. Lowenthal introduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act in Congress.

Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, issued the following statement:

“Senator Udall and Congressman Lowenthal have crafted a comprehensive, ambitious piece of legislation that proposes bold solutions – from banning unnecessary single-use plastics to implementing extended producer responsibility to incentivizing recycling – to turn the tide on ocean plastics. The health of our ocean and the economies, communities and wildlife that depend on it are at stake. This bill shows visionary leadership in meeting the ocean plastics challenge head-on, and Ocean Conservancy is proud to endorse it.”

Doug Cress, vice president for conservation at Ocean Conservancy, issued the following statement:

Ocean Conservancy research shows that to make a real dent in the ocean plastics crisis, we need to eliminate certain single-use plastics, incentivize and strengthen recycling, and put the onus on companies to reduce and collect plastic waste resulting from their products and packaging. This bill does all of those things, and we will do whatever we can to make sure these critical measures stay in the bill as it advances through Congress. With a garbage truck’s worth of plastics dumping into the ocean every minute, we can do no less.”

Nick Mallos, senior director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program, issued the following statement:

“By specifically addressing some of the most prevalent and deadliest forms of ocean plastic pollution, the bill is poised to have a tangible impact on the crisis. Every year, volunteers with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup collect millions of plastic bags, utensils, straws, and beverage bottles in just one day, and the bill proposes measures tackling all of these items. But it goes further by singling out cigarette-related litter and derelict fishing gear, as well. Cigarette butts are by far the most common form of beach litter according to our data, and because they contain plastic filters, they persist and leach toxic chemicals into the environment for years. Meanwhile, Ocean Conservancy research shows that abandoned, lost or otherwise derelict fishing gear – known as ghost gear – is the single deadliest form of marine debris.”

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Ocean Conservancy experts are available for interviews and further comment. For the latest available results, photos and infographics from Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, please click here.

About Ocean Conservancy

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

About Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® Program

Ocean Conservancy has led the fight for a clean, trash-free ocean since 1986, when the organization launched its first annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on a beach in Texas. Since then, the ICC has expanded to over 150 countries and has mobilized millions of volunteers to remove more than 315 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the globe, all the while logging each item and building the world’s largest database on marine debris.

In 2011, recognizing that cleanups alone will not solve the growing ocean plastics crisis, Ocean Conservancy convened leading researchers from around the world to establish a scientific baseline for the sources, fate and impact of plastics in our ocean. The groundbreaking study by Jambeck et al. (2015) published in Science was the key output from this group, and created a first estimate of annual plastic inputs into the ocean from land. In 2012, Ocean Conservancy launched the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, uniting conservationists, scientists and members of the private sector to work together for pragmatic, impactful solutions to the problem, such as the launch of Circulate Capital and Urban Ocean. In 2019, Ocean Conservancy assumed leadership of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative® to reduce the amount of lost and abandoned fishing gear entering the ocean and engage fishers on best practices. Learn more at oceanconservancy.org/trashfreeseas.