National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R1
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R2
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R3
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R4
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R5
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R6
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R7
Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R8
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R9
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R10
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R11
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R12
Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R13
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R14
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R15
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26132.
×
Page R16

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

PREPUBLICATION COPY Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste Committee on the United States Contributions to Global Ocean Plastic Waste Ocean Studies Board Division on Earth and Life Studies This prepublication version of Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste has been provided to the public to facilitate timely access to the report. Although the substance of the report is final, editorial changes may be made throughout the text and citations will be checked prior to publication. The final report will be available through the National Academies Press in spring 2022. A Consensus Study Report of

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 This study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Award Number WC133R17CQ0031/1305M320FNRMA0082. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: X-XXX-XXX-XXXXX-X International Standard Book Number-10: X-XXX-XXXXX-X Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26132 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu/. Copyright 2021 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26132.

The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president. The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine. Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task. Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies. For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

COMMITTEE ON THE UNITED STATES CONTRIBUTIONS TO GLOBAL OCEAN PLASTIC WASTE Margaret Spring, Chair, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California Mary J. Donohue, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu Michelle Gierach, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena Jenna Jambeck, University of Georgia, Athens Hauke Kite-Powell, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts Kara Lavender Law, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, Massachusetts Jay Lund (NAE), University of California, Davis Ramani Narayan, Michigan State University, East Lansing Eben Schwartz, California Coastal Commission, San Francisco Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Staff Megan May, Associate Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board Kelly Oskvig, Senior Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board (until May 2021) Emily Twigg, Senior Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board Bridget McGovern, Research Associate, Ocean Studies Board Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif, Program Assistant, Ocean Studies Board Shelly-Ann Freeland, Financial Business Partner Thanh Nguyen, Financial Business Partner Prepublication Copy v

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD Larry A. Mayer (NAE), Outgoing Chair, University of New Hampshire, Durham Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Incoming Chair, University of South Carolina, Columbia Mark Abbott, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts Carol Arnosti, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Lisa Campbell, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina Thomas S. Chance, ASV Global, LLC (ret.), Broussard, Louisiana Daniel Costa, University of California, Santa Cruz John Delaney, University of Washington (ret.), Seattle Scott Glenn, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Patrick Heimbach, University of Texas, Austin Marcia Isakson, University of Texas, Austin Lekelia Jenkins, Arizona State University, Tempe Nancy Knowlton (NAS), Smithsonian Institution (ret.), Washington, District of Columbia Anthony MacDonald, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey Thomas Miller, University of Maryland, Solomons S. Bradley Moran, University of Alaska, Fairbanks Ruth M. Perry, Shell Exploration & Production Company, Houston, Texas James Sanchirico, University of California, Davis Mark J. Spalding, The Ocean Foundation, Washington, District of Columbia Richard Spinrad, Oregon State University, Corvallis Robert S. Winokur, Michigan Tech Research Institute, Silver Spring, Maryland Staff Susan Roberts, Director Stacee Karras, Senior Program Officer Kelly Oskvig, Senior Program Officer Emily Twigg, Senior Program Officer Vanessa Constant, Associate Program Officer Megan May, Associate Program Officer Alexandra Skrivanek, Associate Program Officer Bridget McGovern, Research Associate Shelly-Ann Freeland, Financial Business Partner Thanh Nguyen, Financial Business Partner Trent Cummings, Senior Program Assistant (until July 2021) Kenza Sidi-Ali-Cherif, Program Assistant Elizabeth Costa, Program Assistant Grace Callahan, Program Assistant vi Prepublication Copy

Preface The success of the 20th century miracle invention of plastics has also produced a global scale deluge of plastic waste seemingly everywhere we look. The visibility of global ocean plastic waste, paired with increasing documentation of its ubiquity, devastating impacts on ocean health and marine wildlife, and transport through the food web, has brought widespread public awareness. Recent global attention has made it clear that the ocean plastic waste problem is linked inextricably to the increasing production of plastics and how we use and treat plastic products and waste from their beginning to well beyond the end of their useful lives. In the United States, ocean plastic waste has become a top public concern, but the developing plastic waste crisis has been building for decades. While U.S. landmark environmental protection laws were enacted in the 1970s to address hazardous waste and toxic water and air pollution, they did not target more widespread plastic waste. Instead, U.S. attention to ocean waste understandably focused on reining in ship- and marine-based sources of ocean pollution, and on controlling discharges of toxic chemicals such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and other harmful and hazardous releases to U.S. air and waters. Coastal states and remote islands, and those who make their living from the sea, raised early alarms about ocean plastic waste, often referred to as “marine debris.” Attention centered on the contributions from lost or abandoned fishing gear and ship-based disposal of plastics and other waste. These calls for action resulted in early government and nongovernmental programs targeting identification and cleanup of fishing gear and other trash on beaches and those harming marine habitats and entangling wildlife. Important land- based sources of plastic waste—a growing proportion of marine debris—were governed at the state level largely under solid waste management controls such as landfills, recycling, or incineration. After a decade of largely regional efforts to address marine debris, in 2004, the congressionally chartered U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy identified marine debris as a national ocean priority and called for strengthening marine debris efforts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies. These recommendations shaped the 2006 Marine Debris Act, which has been reauthorized and updated three times—most recently last year, by the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. Other laws enacted over time include the 2015 federal ban on the use of microbeads in certain products. Federal attention to land-based sources of ocean plastic waste was constrained in light of other priorities. As a result, ocean plastic waste has overwhelmed current marine debris control efforts, despite the important work all parties have achieved to date. Since 2000, U.S. federal programs focusing on marine debris and waste management have been gaining attention in Congress. State and local action on ocean plastic waste has been outpacing federal action, with many state and local bans or restrictions on sale or use of plastic items seen most frequently in communities and coastal environments. An accumulating number of scientific studies and expert reports have raised the level of attention to the problem of plastic waste, generally, and ocean plastic waste, specifically. Global attention to ocean plastic waste accelerated in 2016 when the United Nations adopted a new ocean-focused Sustainability Goal 14 (Life Below Water), which identified the need to address ocean plastic and other sources of ocean pollution. Plastic waste is on the agendas for the G7 and G20, the United Nations, and other bodies, with growing interest in a global treaty on plastic pollution. Many nations are already developing aggressive goals, strategies, and laws to stem the tide. 2021 marks the beginning of the U.N. Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, with at least one focus area on the problem of ocean plastic pollution. Against this backdrop, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) engaged in efforts to understand the issues through consensus studies, including Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea (National Research Prepublication Copy vii

Council 1995) and Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century (National Research Council 2009). Several years ago, the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) identified ocean plastic waste as an area of rapidly evolving scientific discovery and societal relevance, and selected the topic for the March 2020 21st Annual Revelle Lecture, which was delivered by Chelsea Rochman, one of a rising generation of scientists working on the problem. That same month, just before the COVID-19 pandemic reduced travel, OSB held a workshop on the ocean plastic problem, at about the same time that two other National Academies workshops were held on other plastic-related topics: Closing the Loop on the Plastics Dilemma (NASEM 2020) and Emerging Technologies to Advance Research and Decisions on the Environmental Health Effects of Microplastics. In June 2020, NOAA engaged OSB and sponsored this study, grounded in one outlined by Congress in the Save Our Seas 2.0 bill (enacted later in 2020). OSB convened this ad hoc consensus Committee on the United States Contribution to Global Ocean Plastic Waste around an ambitious statement of task. Despite the many challenges of operating during a global pandemic, the committee met frequently to understand the state of knowledge about ocean plastic waste. We focused on specific issues facing the United States, as well as on what solutions are being tested at the local to global levels. The committee benefited from insights from federal programs at NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a range of experts and practitioners, as well as U.S. plastic waste priorities and activities. These include the 2020 Federal Marine Debris Strategy and priorities identified in the 2018 National Science and Technology Council Decadal Ocean Science and Technology Vision, which included preventing and reducing plastic pollution. Much of the information on plastic waste that the committee relied on came from available government and industry data and a substantial number of studies conceived and carried out by scientists and other experts in nongovernmental organizations and academia, with limited federal support. A hallmark of these studies has been their grounding in collaborations, in partnership or coordination with government, communities, and industry groups. Philanthropic support and insights have injected innovative “circular economy” principles to these collaborations, which may help unite action toward economically beneficial solutions. Community science has grown in popularity, especially among young people. The rising generation is deeply engaged and motivated to raise their concerns about ocean plastic waste to decision makers. While this report identifies knowledge gaps, it also summarizes what we learned, and lays out opportunities for the United States to stake out a leadership position and take meaningful steps in the United States and on the global stage, with many co-benefits for U.S. policy priorities, from climate change and social equity to economic opportunities and technology innovation. Strategies and roadmaps developed by U.S. states and other nations serve as illustrative examples. The problems caused in the ocean and for society by the rise of plastic waste are complex and accelerating. Solving them requires a systemic and systematic approach unified around clear goals and paths for change. Ocean plastic waste is part of an overall challenge from the global growth of plastic production, especially based on fossil sources, and related economic trends, along with gaps in waste management. The disparate impacts on people and communities makes equity important in formulating strategies and evaluating impacts, costs, and solutions. The increase in plastic waste with the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the influence of larger global challenges. As the U.S. public learns more about the plastic problem, it seeks clarity on top causes and key solutions now and for the future. Public outcry and attention in the United States and globally will intensify as more studies and reports are released by scientists and other experts. Public concern has led Congress to call for several studies to delve more deeply into questions beyond the committee’s charge. In October 2021, the United Nations Environment Program released a comprehensive global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution to inform discussions on national and global action on plastic pollution, including a global plastic treaty (UNEP 2021a). These insights will join the growing wave of information and add to our national knowledge base. This report is a first order synthesis of what we learned about the questions raised in the statement of task. It by no means addresses all questions or provides all answers, but it does provide some sample blueprints for action. The report provides suggestions for a U.S. plan of action and federal leadership on viii Prepublication Copy

this problem, including on the global stage. This will require strong federal coordination that draws on the advice and knowledge of a range of experts and practitioners, including those with a deep understanding of the incentives, processes, and practices that must change if we are to prevent plastics from entering our environment and our ocean as uncontrolled and harmful plastic waste. The committee members and I would like to thank NOAA and the congressional sponsors for their longstanding commitment to addressing the problem of ocean plastic waste. We were honored to be selected for this important task, and I am grateful to my fellow members for their generous contributions of expertise and time. I know they join me in appreciating the tireless work of our study director, Dr. Megan May, and the larger National Academies team. I also thank the members of the Ocean Studies Board and board director, Dr. Susan Roberts, for their commitment to this important topic. Margaret Spring, Chair Committee on the United States Contribution to Global Ocean Plastic Waste Prepublication Copy ix

Acknowledgments The committee would like to thank National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) staff and contractors who helped with this project, especially Amy V. Uhrin, Mary Lee Haughwout, Nancy Wallace, Emma Tonge, Yael Seid-Green, Hannah Montoya, Patricia McBride Finneran, and Ryan Edwards. At five open-session meetings, the committee heard presentations from a wide array of experts. The committee thanks all the speakers: Amy V. Uhrin (NOAA), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (U.S. Senate), Mary-Eileen Manning (Office of Senator Sullivan), Jill Hamilton (Office of Senator Whitehouse), Stewart Harris (American Chemistry Council), Steve Alexander (Association of Plastic Recyclers), Nicholas Mallos (The Ocean Conservancy), Winnie Lau (The Pew Charitable Trusts), Scott Fulton (Environmental Law Institute), Mary Ellen Ternes (Earth & Water Law, LLC), David Biderman (Solid Waste Association of North America), Jonathan Bishop (California State Water Resources Control Board), Jeremy Conkle (Texas A&M University Corpus Christi), Timothy Hoellein (Loyola University Chicago), Sebastian Primpke (Alfred Wegener Institute), Shungu Garaba (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg), Victor Martinez-Vicente (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), Ellen Ramirez (NOAA), Hillary Burgess (NOAA), Romell Nandi (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Harry Allen (Environmental Protection Agency Region 9), Nancy Wallace (NOAA), and Rusty Holleman (University of California, Davis). The committee appreciates the American Chemistry Council’s willingness to share data on plastic production, which were used for Chapter 2. Finally, the committee would like to thank The Research Center of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for its research support, Eric Edkin (the National Academies) and International Mapping for graphics support, and Rona Briere for her editing support. Prepublication Copy xi

Reviewers This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Jennifer Adibi, University of Pittsburgh Stefano Aliani, Institute of Marine Sciences National Research Council Eric Beckman, University of Pittsburgh Winnie Lau, The Pew Charitable Trusts Diane Sicotte, Drexel University Mark Spalding, The Ocean Foundation Anastasios Xepapadeas (NAS), Athens University of Economics and Business Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Danny Reible (NAE), Texas Tech University, as the Report Review Committee Monitor and Michael Kavanaugh (NAE), Geosyntec Consultants, as the Division of Earth and Life Sciences Coordinator. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies. Prepublication Copy xiii

Contents SUMMARY .............................................................................................................................................. . 1 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................................. 13 Study Context, 13 Origin of This Study, 19 Study Scope and Approach, 21 2 PLASTIC PRODUCTION AND GLOBAL TRADE ........................................................................ 23 Properties of Plastics, 23 Plastic Production, 24 Plastic Trade, 28 Chapter Synopsis, 34 Prioritized Knowledge Gaps, 34 Findings and Conclusion, 34 3 PLASTIC WASTE AND ITS MANAGEMENT ................................................................................ 35 National and Global Plastic Waste Generation, 35 U.S. Management of Plastic Waste, 35 U.S. Plastic Waste Leakage, 48 Current Regulatory Framework for U.S. Management of Plastic Waste, 51 Chapter Synopsis, 53 Prioritized Knowledge Gaps, 53 Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendation, 53 4 PHYSICAL TRANSPORT AND PATHWAYS TO THE OCEAN ................................................. 55 Waterborne Pathways, 56 Airborne Pathways: Wind, 61 Direct Input, 62 Case Study on San Francisco Bay Area, 63 The Challenge of Estimating Flows of Plastics Entering the Ocean, 65 Knowledge Gaps, 65 Findings and Conclusion, 66 5 DISTRIBUTION AND FATE OF PLASTIC WASTE IN THE OCEAN ....................................... 67 Estimated Plastic Waste Inputs to the Environment, 67 Environmental Reservoirs of Aquatic Plastic Waste, 68 Transformation of Plastics in the Ocean, 83 Chapter Synopsis, 85 Knowledge Gaps, 86 Findings and Conclusion, 86 6 TRACKING AND MONITORING SYSTEMS FOR OCEAN PLASTIC WASTE ...................... 87 Existing Tracking and Monitoring Strategies and Programs, 88 Considerations, Enhancements, and Opportunities for Tracking and Monitoring in the United States, 95 Prepublication Copy xv

Contents Potential Value of a National Marine Debris Tracking and Monitoring System, 102 Knowledge Gaps, 103 Findings and Recommendations, 105 7 INTERVENTIONS FOR U.S. CONTRIBUTIONS TO GLOBAL OCEAN PLASTIC WASTE .............................................................................................................. 106 Key Frameworks and Implementation, 107 Strategies from Other Countries/Regions, 111 A U.S. Approach on Plastics, 116 REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................................ 126 APPENDIXES A BIOGRAPHIES OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE UNITED STATES CONTRIBUTIONS TO GLOBAL OCEAN PLASTIC WASTE .................................................. 158 B DEFINITIONS AND ACRONYMS ................................................................................................. 164 C LEGAL FRAMEWORK ................................................................................................................... 167 D ESTUARY TABLE ............................................................................................................................ 182 E GLOBAL INSTRUMENTS AND ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO OCEAN PLASTIC POLLUTION .................................................................................................................... 188 xvi Prepublication Copy

Next: Summary »
Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste Get This Book
×
Buy Prepub | $69.00 Buy Paperback | $60.00
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

An estimated 8 million metric tons (MMT) of plastic waste enters the world's ocean each year - the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck of plastic waste into the ocean every minute. Plastic waste is now found in almost every marine habitat, from the ocean surface to deep sea sediments to the ocean's vast mid-water region, as well as the Great Lakes. This report responds to a request in the bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act for a scientific synthesis of the role of the United States both in contributing to and responding to global ocean plastic waste.

The United States is a major producer of plastics and in 2016, generated more plastic waste by weight and per capita than any other nation. Although the U.S. solid waste management system is advanced, it is not sufficient to deter leakage into the environment. Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste calls for a national strategy by the end of 2022 to reduce the nation's contribution to global ocean plastic waste at every step - from production to its entry into the environment - including by substantially reducing U.S. solid waste generation. This report also recommends a nationally-coordinated and expanded monitoring system to track plastic pollution in order to understand the scales and sources of U.S. plastic waste, set reduction and management priorities, and measure progress.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!