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 EPA, more 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.
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....
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....
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....
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.
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…
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…
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Surfrider Foundation is working closely with allies in the Capitol to reintroduce bold federal legislation to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.
First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.
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 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 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,…
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…
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.
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…
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…
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
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…
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…
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…
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.
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.
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
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…
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…
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…