Widespread use of plastics, outside of the military, did not occur until after World War II. The ensuing rapid growth in plastics production is extraordinary, surpassing most other man-made materials. Its largest market is packaging, an application whose growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use containers. As a result, the share of plastics in municipal solid waste (by mass) increased from less than 1% in 1960 to, according to the EPAmore than 12.2% by 2018.

The amount of plastic entering the ocean is on the rise: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics are added to the estimated 150 million metric tons already circulating, affecting 700 species.

The problem with plastic is that it never fully decomposes, and as it degrades, it emits greenhouse gases. These microplastics disrupt the food chain and kill oceanlife

To address the plastic epidemic Boyan Slat, at age 18, founded the Ocean Cleanup to remove plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. By 2025, the Ocean Cleanup project hopes to cut the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in half.

Ocean pollution also comes in through a number of additional outlets such as sewage, industrial and agricultural runoff, garbage dumping, and chemical spills. Pesticide and fertilizer runoff are creating huge dead zones — oxygen-depleted areas where many marine species struggle to survive. The world’s largest dead zone, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is roughly the size of Connecticut.


There are 21,000 pieces of plastic in the ocean for each person on Earth

By Michael Birnbaum 03/08/23
A new study found far more plastic in global oceans than previously believed — and the amount is doubling every six years....
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Microplastics are polluting the ocean at a shocking rate

By Matt Simon 03/08/23
Some 11 billion pounds of plastic particles are blanketing the surface alone. But a new study points to hope—if countries act now....
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A Toxic Stew on Cape Cod: Human Waste and Warming Water

By Christopher Flavelle 01/01/23
Climate change is contributing to electric-green algae blooms. Massachusetts wants a cleanup of the antiquated septic systems feeding the mess, but it could cost billions....
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Who’s Driving Climate Change? New Data Catalogs 72,000 Polluters and Counting

By Raymond Zhong 11/09/22
A nonprofit backed by Al Gore and other big environmental donors says it can track emissions down to individual power plants, oil fields and cargo ships.
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Salt in water sources becoming worrisome in D.C. region, experts warn

By Antonio Olivo 08/08/22
The Washington region is growing — a metropolis of nearly 6 million people where area officials are pressing to build another 320,000 homes by the end of this decade. And with that growth comes an…
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Microplastics are in our bodies. How much do they harm us?

By Laura Parker 04/26/22
A few years ago, as microplastics began turning up in the guts of fish and shellfish, the concern was focused on the safety of seafood. Shellfish were a particular worry, because in their case, unlike…
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Disease-causing parasites can hitch a ride on plastics and potentially spread through the sea, new research suggests

By Karen Shapiro and Emma Zhang 04/26/22
Typically when people hear about plastic pollution, they might envision seabirds with bellies full of trash or sea turtles with plastic straws in their noses. However, plastic pollution poses another threat that’s invisible to the…
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EPA plans sweeping regulatory strategy for power plants

By Ethan Howland 03/11/22
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue a series of proposals covering air, water and waste pollution from power generators, especially coal-fired power plants, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Thursday.
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Biden’s EPA chief puts power plants on notice for pollution

By Dino Grandoni 03/10/22
Previewing a suite of new fossil fuel rules, Michael Regan said more needs to be done to clean up the air and water around power plants
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Historic moment as 175 nations pledge to curb plastic pollution

By David Vetter 03/02/22
There were whoops of joy and applause as assembled heads of state and representatives from around the world agreed Wednesday to draw up an international treaty to end the growing global tide of plastic pollution.
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Science report: US should make less plastic to save oceans

By Seth Borenstein 12/01/21
America needs to rethink and reduce the way it generates plastics because so much of the material is littering the oceans and other waters, the National Academy of Sciences says in a new report.
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U.S. is top contributor to plastic waste, report shows

By Tik Root 12/01/21
The United States ranks as the world’s leading contributor of plastic waste and needs a national strategy to combat the issue, according to a congressionally mandated report released Tuesday.
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Pass the BFFP Pollution Act

Surfrider Foundation is working closely with allies in the Capitol to reintroduce bold federal legislation to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.

Breaking the Plastic Wave: Top Findings for Preventing Plastic Pollution

First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.

Ocean Conservancy: Cleanup Report

Fighting for Trash Free Seas.


We’re here to clean the ocean and coastlines while working to stop the inflow of plastic by changing consumption habits.

Parley for the Oceans

Parley for the Oceans addresses major threats towards our oceans, the most important ecosystem of our planet. We believe the power for change lies in the hands of the consumer – given we all have a…

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of more than 1,000 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 60 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals,…

Ocean Cleanup, The

The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. A full-scale deployment of our systems is estimated to clean up 50 % of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch…


Scientists find 414 million pieces of plastic debris on remote islands. That’s even worse than it sounds.

By Yasemin Saplakoglu   05/21/19  
The amount of plastic pollution previously thought to exist around the world may be a dramatic underestimate — because the vast majority of plastic pollution may actually be below the surface.
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Citizens Climate Radio Ep. 35: Plastic pollution and heavy metal

Citizens Climate Radio Ep. 35: Plastic pollution and heavy metal Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCL volunteer Peterson Toscano. Browse all our past episode recaps here, or listen to past episodes…
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The amount of plastic in the ocean is a lot worse than we thought, study says

By Jen Christensen   04/16/19  
If you're sad when you see stories about dead whales washing ashore with dozens of pounds of plastic in their bellies or feel guilty when you forget to bring your reusable bags to the grocery…
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Plastic pollution: can the ocean really be cleaned up?

By Joanna Khan   03/21/19  
While the ultimate goal is to stop plastics from entering the water in the first place, cleanup projects play an important role
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EPA Slow to Act on PFAS Contamination Crisis

A hearing on Capitol Hill today probed EPA’s failure to set safety standards for a class of toxic chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — also called the “forever chemicals” because they take thousands of years to break…
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Every Animal Pulled From the Deepest Part of the Ocean Had Plastic in Its Gut

By Joe McCarthy and Erica Sanchez   02/28/19  
Stories of whales, turtles, and seabirds with guts filled with plastic have become increasingly common. Recently, a team of scientists wanted to determine the extent of plastic pollution and its effects on animals by investigating…
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Investing in Solutions to Stop Ocean Plastic

Plastic waste in the ocean represents one of the most urgent and fast-growing ecological challenges of our time. Scientists estimate that more than half of the 8 million metric tons of plastic that flows into…
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Plastic In The Ocean: Billions Of Microplastic Nanoparticles Found In Scallop Intestines In Just Hours

By Kashmira Gander   12/03/18  
Scientists at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. exposed scallops to the nanoplastic carbon-radiolabeled nanopolystyrene in a laboratory setting. After six hours, they found billions of tiny particles had built up throughout their bodies.
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A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

By Darryl Fears   10/21/18  
Since 2004, this oil spill has been going on — secretly— while Taylor Energy battles to keep it that way.
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Plastic pollution killed sperm whale found dead on Spanish beach

By Josh Gabbatiss   04/07/18  
Marine mammal had 29 kilos of plastic in its stomach, blocking its digestive system and leading to its death
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Explained

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California. Scientists of The Ocean Cleanup Foundation have conducted the most extensive analysis ever…
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World’s largest collection of ocean garbage is twice the size of Texas

By Doyle Rice   03/22/18  
The world's largest collection of ocean garbage is growing. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic, floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, a study found. That's twice the…
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Ocean Pollution: The Dirty Facts

By Melissa Denchak   01/22/18  
Covering more than 70 percent of our planet, oceans are among the earth’s most valuable natural resources. They govern the weather, clean the air, help feed the world, and provide a living for millions. They…
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Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem

Produced by Alison Trowsdale, Tom Housden and Becca Meier   12/10/17  
Marine life is facing "irreparable damage" from the millions of tonnes of plastic waste which ends up in the oceans each year, the United Nations has warned.
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Shocking Photos Show Extent of Plastic Pollution in Caribbean

By Joe McCarthy   10/27/17  
When Caroline Power ventured into the Cayos Cochinos Marine Reserve off the coast of Honduras, it was as if she had come upon a crime scene.
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Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made

By Roland Geyer and Others   07/19/17  
A world without plastics, or synthetic organic polymers, seems unimaginable today, yet their large-scale production and use only dates back to ~1950. Although the first synthetic plastics, such as Bakelite, appeared in the early 20th…
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NASA’s Garbage Patch Visualization Experiment

By NASA   09/01/15  
NASA created a visualization of the ocean garbage patches using data from floating, scientific buoys that NOAA has been distributing in the oceans for the last 35-years.
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Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans (2012)

By Charles Moore, Cassandra Phillips.   10/03/19  
The researcher who discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—and remains one of today's key advocates for plastic pollution awareness—inspires a fundamental rethinking of the modern Plastic Age.
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New Research Shows Microplastics Have Invaded The Deep Ocean — And The Food Chain

By Christopher Joyce   06/06/19  
The largest habitat for life on Earth is the deep ocean. It's home to everything from jellyfish to giant bluefin tuna. But the deep ocean is being invaded by tiny pieces of plastic — plastic…
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