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Marine Debris Prevention: it takes teamwork

By: Sherry Lippiatt, California Regional Coordinator

Saving Our Synthetic Seas, a traveling exhibition put together by The 5 Gyres Institute. Pictured from left to right is a Japanese vessel found floating in the North Pacific, masks cast from plastic, and the stomach contents of a camel that ingested rope and plastic bags.

Saving Our Synthetic Seas, a traveling exhibition put together by The 5 Gyres Institute. Pictured from left to right is a Japanese vessel found floating in the North Pacific, masks cast from plastic, and the stomach contents of a camel that ingested rope and plastic bags.

Hello from Long Beach, CA!

In mid-February, I was honored to participate in an event and panel discussion at the Aquarium of the Pacific highlighting plastics in the marine environment. The panel introduced the issue to the audience and talked about solutions, while the non-profit 5 Gyres Institute debuted a traveling exhibit on the impacts of ocean pollution.

Here are my take-aways from the evening:

It became clear that although marine debris seems like a relatively simple problem to solve – it’s visible, tangible, and comes directly from humans – the issue needs to be addressed at multiple levels. Meaning, to make great strides in preventing marine debris we need industry participation and innovation, effective policies grounded in sound science, and changes in consumer behavior.

It’s true that more research is needed to fully understand and measure the impacts of debris, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take action. While advances in science will help us identify better, more successful management strategies, there are easy changes we can make every day to make a huge difference. For example, reducing our consumption of single-use, disposable plastics is a great start. (See Ocean Conservancy’s Keep the Coast Clear website for more suggestions).

A big thank-you to the Aquarium of the Pacific, Algalita Marine Research Institute, 5 Gyres, and my fellow panelists from the NRDC and Packaging 2.0 for the inspiring discussion!

February 26, 2013
Marine Debris Blog

Marine Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act Introduced by Assemblymembers Ben Hueso & Mark Stone

Leila Monroe’s Blog

Experience and scientific study both reveal that plastic now pollutes the farthest reaches of the world’s oceans.  From the deep seabed of the Arctic, to once-pristine coasts – from the local riverside parks to distant islands – globally, we produce far more plastic waste than is recovered or recycled.

While this is a global problem, we can accomplish a lot with leadership and action at the State level. We at NRDC are thrilled to be working with California Assemblymember Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), joined by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), who have introduced the Marine Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act.

A 2012 study by the Convention on Biological Diversity found that 663 marine specieshave been impacted by marine litter through entanglement and ingestion—a two-thirds increase in species from a similar study in 1998.  And a 2012 report found that California’s coastal communities are spending more than $418 million each and every year to combat litter and curtail marine debris.

This Act will create benefits not only for our oceans, but also for tax payers and local governments that currently pay millions of dollars every year to manage excessive plastic packaging that often pollutes our environment.  The bill also encourages industry to use their power of innovation by making design changes that can eliminate the problem in the first place.

For decades, much of the effort toward solving the problem of “marine debris”–the general term for solid waste found in the ocean – has been in trying to educate people not to litter and to clean up the beaches.  But plastics production worldwide is increasing, and half of all plastic items are designed to be used once and then thrown away.  Our recycling infrastructure has not kept pace with the amount of disposable plastic packaging that is being produced, and this packaging often ends up as blight in the environment because it is lightweight, blows away, and is shipped all around the world to places where it is not being disposed of properly.

Because 60-80% of marine plastic pollution comes from land sources, resulting from inadequate waste management and inappropriate disposal, NRDC is helping to tackle this problem by uniting the expertise of both our ocean and our waste management experts.  The goal of AB 521 is to require that producers of plastic take their fair share of responsibility for infrastructure — such as recycling plants, full capture devices on stormdrains — needed to properly recycle materials or prevent them from reaching the marine environment.   This will then incentivize business to make better products – durable, reusable and truly recyclable products – rather than the disposable polluting plastics that are now so ubiquitous.

We are excited and very grateful to Assemblymembers Hueso and Stone for their leadership in launching a comprehensive solution to the problem of marine plastic pollution that threatens the California’s communities, economy, and environment.

February 21, 2013
Switchboard, from NRDC

No Recife, oceonógrafa alerta sobre o risco do lixo para espécies marinhas

Tempo de decomposição do plástico pode chegar até mais de 100 anos.
Praia Limpa conscientiza sobre impacto ambiental do acúmulo de lixo.

Do G1 PE

Foto: Bernardo Mussi

Foto: Bernardo Mussi

Encontrar paletas de picolé, embalagens e restos de alimentos na praia já se tornou comum no cotidiano dos banhistas. Tanto o crescimento do comércio na orla marítima como o desenvolvimento urbano são aspectos que contribuem para o acúmulo de dejetos na área que, além de prejudicar o bem estar dos frequentadores, causam sérios riscos aos animais marinhos.

Toneladas de lixos chegam ao mar diariamente, vindo do continente (rios), da praia, sem contar o lixo despejado pelas embarcações comercias e provenientes do lazer. O tempo de decomposição de um objeto de plástico, podendo variar de acordo com as condições do ambiente em que se encontra, chega até mais de 100 anos, semelhante ao do metal. Esses materiais permanecem no meio ambiente, arriscando a vida das espécies marinhas.

A oceanógrafa e professora da Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE) Mônica Ferreira da Costa explica que o plástico, após ser descartado no mar, resseca e passa por um processo de fragmentação, se transformando em pequenos pedaços, que chegam a ter milímetros ou micrômetros. Essas peças fragmentadas, conhecidas por microplásticos, geram consequências físicas aos animais marinhos. “Ao ingerir algum elemento de metal, plástico ou vidro, peixes, tartarugas, e outros tipos de animais, estão sujeitos a sofrerem problemas digestivos, como perfurações internas. Os microplásticos causam feridas sérias nos órgãos deles, que podem vir a necrosar, matando o animal em médio ou longo prazo”, explica Mônica.

Além dessas consequências, a oceanógrafa também alerta sobre as implicações químicas que esses animais podem sofrer. “O plástico descartado no mar carrega uma quantidade de poluentes orgânicos e, consequentemente, o organismo da tartaruga, por exemplo, extrai esses poluentes, que podem ser levados para os ovos durante a reprodução”.

O “Praia Limpa” surgiu com o objetivo de conscientizar a população sobre o impacto ambiental do acúmulo de lixo nas praias. O projeto conta com a distribuição de sacolas plásticas biodegradáveis entre os banhistas da orla de Boa Viagem, Zona Sul do Recife, focando na redução do descarte do lixo na área e a preservação do meio ambiente. “O projeto está deixando a nossa praia limpinha e todo mundo acaba querendo participar para preservar o meio ambiente”, disse a banhista Natasha Santiago.

25/02/2013 16h17

Plasticized – An Oceanic Catastrophe



PLASTICIZED is a film that places the viewer aboard a transatlantic expedition, as if one of the crew, revealing the unembellished evidence that the human footprint has reached every corner of the earth, even if we have not been there.

Despite rumors of massive garbage islands, an immeasurable amount of plastic pollution of all sizes is floating throughout every major ocean in the world. With the numerous ghost nets of trash or larger windrows of rubbish dominating the the occasional headlines, tiny bits of plastic particulate from frail chunks is the overwhelming contaminant that is secretly infiltrating all levels of sea life like a cancer.

Every day the disposable single use items that we take for granted, such as bags, bottles and straws, just to name the tip of the plastic iceberg, find their way through mismanagement into the waterways and eventually the oceans, becoming part of the food chain. A cycle that inevitably comes round insidiously to our plates or worse, leaves our plates empty.

When conservative estimates are made in regard to the actual volume, the amount of plastic collecting in the sea is astounding. PLASTICIZED conveys a clear understanding of the issue through seeing the arduous mission cross an entire ocean from Brazil to South Africa.

With every nation, rich or poor, reaching further for dwindling resources at any cost, it is perplexing to see how we neglect one of our most precious and vital assets, the Ocean.

The South Atlantic Crew was comprised of lead scientist Dr. Marcus Eriksen, 5 Gyre researcher and education advisor Anna Cummins, Stiv J. Wilson 5 Gyres communications director, Chelsea Rochman studying the trophic effects of persistent organic contaminants’ adsorption to plastic debris in the marine environment, research scientist Bonnie Monteleone, Captain Clive Cosby and first mate Dale Selvam, Environmental Cleanup Coalition founder Richard “Sundance” Owen, ocean activist Mary Maxwell, with professional surfers James Pribram and Mary Osborne, and filmmaker Michael J. Lutman.

The crew spent 31 days at sea after leaving the beautiful port of Ilha Grande in Brazil in able to cross the South Atlantic Gyre on their way to Cape Town, South Africa. Their objective was to sample the seas with a trawling net every 60 nautical miles to document the amount and dispersal of plastic fragments throughout the ocean.


To find out more about the film, head to:

Go to to learn more about the topic of oceanic plastic pollution where you can also become part of the solution.

Contact to find out about the use of the film PLASTICIZED for education. It is available with English closed captioning as well as Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Litter found in deepsea survey of one of Earth’s final unexplored realms

A glimpse into one tiny nook of the UK’s vast ocean depths uncovered two drink cans, one bottle, and a rusty food tin

Jon Copley

Deep-sea pollution at 2,300 meters has arrived before the James Cook survey. Photograph: NERC

Deep-sea pollution at 2,300 meters has arrived before the James Cook survey. Photograph: NERC

On 15 August 1934, two adventurers squeezed into a tiny metal capsule and became the first people to see another world. Their names were William Beebe and Otis Barton, and the world that they saw was the deep ocean, when they dived more than half a mile down in their bathysphere near Bermuda. They were the first to journey beyond the sunlit waters of the upper ocean, and Barton later commented that “no human eye had seen this part of the planet before us, this pitch-black country lighted only by the pale gleam of an occasional spiralling shrimp”.

Colonies of teeming glorious life in the abyss. Photograph: NERC

Colonies of teeming glorious life in the abyss. Photograph: NERC

For the past two weeks, my colleagues and I have been exploring that pitch-black country further, by sending a remotely operated vehicle called Isis to the bottom of the Cayman Trough, which is located between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, from the UK’s royal research ship, James Cook. We have surveyed the slopes of an underwater mountain twice as high as Ben Nevis, but whose summit still lies one-and-a-half miles beneath the waves. We have also investigated the world’s deepest undersea vents, three miles down in a volcanic rift on the ocean floor. And our journey has brought us face-to-face with new species of deep-sea creatures, from colonies of teeming glorious life in the abyss.

The area where we are working is part of the UK’s deep-sea territory, which covers an area 27 times greater than all of our land above the waves. Besides finding out what is in that unexplored realm, the goal of our expedition is to learn more about the geological forces that shape our world, the processes that govern the chemistry of the oceans, and how species disperse and evolve in the dark depths.

During our present expedition, we plan to collect sediment cores around the world's deepest known undersea vents. Photograph: NERC

During our present expedition, we plan to collect sediment cores around the world’s deepest known undersea vents. Photograph: NERC

But while we have been among the first to see this particular part of our planet, we have found that human rubbish has arrived here before us. The list of litter we have seen so far during dives includes two soft drink cans, one beer bottle, and a rusty food tin. And ours is just one expedition, glimpsing only one tiny nook of the vast ocean depths.

In the logsheets that we use to record our observations at the seafloor, we have several categories for any human impacts that we encounter. To pass the time during a recent three-hour descent to the ocean floor, one of my research students asked me which of the categories I had seen before in recent deep-sea expeditions. The answer was all of them. Discarded fishing nets? Yes, on underwater mountains in the Indian Ocean. Discarded longlines? Yes, more than a mile deep in the remote south Atlantic. Plastic? Yes, a shopping bag at a deep-sea vent in a Pacific marine protected area. Scrap metal? Yes, a tangle of discarded pipework on an undersea volcanic ridge north of the Azores.

Deep-sea pollution at 5,000 metres. Photograph: NERC

Deep-sea pollution at 5,000 metres. Photograph: NERC

Human-generated rubbish unfortunately has a long history in the deep ocean. In the age of steamships, for example, vessels dumped the remains of burned coal, known as clinker, from their engine rooms. Clinker changed the nature of the seafloor in well-travelled areas, transforming the seabed from soft sediment in which some forms of marine life can burrow, into cobbled areas suiting other life-forms that can anchor to hard surfaces. The scale of that transformation is such that clinker is now recognised as a seafloor type when we are mapping the deep ocean.

At the time that our great-great-grandparents were dumping clinker, however, they only had hazy notions about the depth of the oceans, let alone what was going on down there. Just starting to map the depth of the ocean, let alone visit it, required two technological advances. One was the ability to fix a ship’s position accurately far from land, solved by inventions such as John Harrison’s longitude-determining chronometer. The other was steam-powered winches, which helped early survey ships to pay out and haul in the miles of cable required to plumb the ocean depths.

Today we can gauge the large-scale landscape of the ocean floor from satellites, map it in far greater detail using sonar, and visit its most extreme depths with deep-diving vehicles. Plastic, meanwhile, has replaced clinker as a common contaminant of the deep ocean. During our present expedition, we plan to collect sediment cores around the world’s deepest known undersea vents to see if there are any microplastics here: tiny ground-down remnants of plastic that may now be quite ubiquitous in the oceans.

Although we might not think about it, our daily lives have an impact on the deep ocean, not just through items of litter that end up there, but increasingly through the resources that we use. We are fishing in deeper waters, extracting oil and gas from deeper waters, and now eyeing deposits of metals and rare earth elements on the ocean floor, needed for the ever-developing technology of our modern lives.

As our planet’s population continues to grow and develop, so will that impact. When William Beebe and Otis Barton first ventured into the deep ocean, the global population was around two billion people. Fewer than 80 years later, it is more than seven billion. But for the first time in human history, we can explore and investigate the half of our planet that lies beneath water more than two miles deep. With vehicles such as our Isis remotely operated vehicle, we can begin to understand the impact of our lives on the previously hidden face of our world.

So while my colleagues and I are exploring the deep ocean, we try to share what we are finding with anyone who wants to join us, through programmes of online outreach and work with the media. In this, too, we are following in the wake of William Beebe, who broadcast live on the radio during his bathysphere dives in the 1930s, describing what he was seeing.

However, I don’t expect that simply finding out more about the deep ocean will prompt anyone suddenly to care more about it. But at least ignorance of it can no longer be an excuse. And to plot our course ahead among the economic opportunities and environmental challenges that the deep ocean has to offer, we need to think deep thoughts.

• Jon Copley is aboard the RRS James Cook on a research mission to explore the ocean’s deepest hydrothermal vents. You can follow him on twitter at @expeditionlog and use #deepestvents for updates from current expedition. There is also a free eBook about deep-sea vents and other recent expeditions

Monday 25 February 2013 13.24 GMT
The Guardian

Bottled Life – The Truth about Nestlé’s Business with Water

Bottled Life - The Truth about Nestlé's Business with Water

Bottled Life – The Truth about Nestlé’s Business with Water

Do you know how to turn ordinary water into a billion-dollar business? In Switzerland there’s a company which has developed the art to perfection – Nestlé. This company dominates the global business in bottled water.
Swiss journalist Res Gehringer has investigated this money-making phenomena. Nestlé refused to cooperate, on the pretext that it was “the wrong film at the wrong time”. So Gehringer went on a journey of exploration, researching the story in the USA, Nigeria and Pakistan. His journey into the world of bottled water reveals the schemes and strategies of the most powerful food and beverage company on our planet.

See the Film

Tweet do dia – Flavio Müller